Daily News - Wednesday 3 December 2014
Mentally ill Aborigines face indefinite prison in Alice Springs
Jared Owens, The Australian ($)
Aboriginal people deemed mentally unfit to face trial are being held indefinitely in the Alice Springs jail, exposing them to other violent inmates, self-harm and forced tranquillisation.
The Australian Human Rights Commission’s investigation of four prisoners at the Alice Springs Correctional Centre found the commonwealth had failed to ensure support and accommodation for dangerous mentally ill people in central Australia other than in the maximum-security jail.
Mental Health Review No Show
Pro Bono News
The Federal Opposition claims the Abbott Government has failed to table the interim reports of its mental health review, despite a Senate vote last week forcing it to do so.
The Labor Opposition says the failure to release the interim reports leaves people living with mental illness and their representative organisations and service providers in the dark about its plans for the future of mental health programs and services.
New AIHW report looks at suicide and self-harm statistics
AIHW, media release
Suicide and intentional self-harm are significant public health problems in Australia, with the number of Australians who died by suicide averaging around 2,000 each year since the mid-1980s, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).
For over a decade, more than 20,000 Australians have been admitted to hospital each year as a result of intentionally self‑inflicted injuries.
ACT - National Disability Insurance Agency denies being 'swamped' with assessments
Clare Colley, The Age
Just 28 planners are working to move close to 500 Canberrans onto the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) by the end of the year, prompting complaints that "swamped" workers are making the process take longer than it should.
By July 2016, 5075 Canberrans are expected to access the NDIS.
But so far just 103 eligible participants have had plans approved – only 56 per cent of the 185 people expected to transition to the scheme between July to September, latest data shows.
ACT - Families fear they will be left worse off after NDIS roll-out
Clare Colley, The Canberra Times
Parents of children with special needs fear their children will be forced into mainstream preschools and schools before they are ready when the ACT government ceases its early intervention programs at the end of the December, as private providers move in under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).
Disability Housing Partnership
Pro Bono News
Two major Queensland Not for Profits, Horizon Housing and Endeavour Foundation, have joined forces to tackle homelessness amongst people living with disabilities by increasing affordable housing for at risk people.
The partnership between one of the the largest Queensland-based Not for Profit housing providers and one of the nation’s largest disability service providers will enable a significant response to a serious issue, given that people living with a disability make up around 25 per cent of those in need of housing assistance, the two organisations said.
Concerns for Broome's homeless as cyclone season approaches
Erin Parke, ABC
A three-fold increase in homeless people living in the northern Western Australian town of Broome has sparked concerns over how they will fare during the impending cyclone season.
Up to 150 people have been camping in bushland and sand dunes around the town.
Most were from remote Aboriginal communities and were visiting family in Broome, accessing health services or drinking full-strength alcohol, which was cut off in many parts of the Kimberley.
Jobs and education are the lifters
Nyunggai Warren Mundine, The Australian ($)
The only way to move people out of poverty is education and employment. This is true whether you’re an indigenous person living in a small community in remote Australia or an Indian living in the slums of Mumbai.
Poverty isn’t solved by welfare or giving communities money. It is solved by economic development — individuals within a community making money.
While governments lay down the conditions under which economic development takes place, jobs and economies are created by commerce and private capital.
WA - Mid West faces significant rise in unemployment
Chloe Papas, ABC
The unemployment rate in Geraldton has jumped by 50% in the past 12 months, according to the Federal government's Small Area Labour Report.
Along with Geraldton, other Mid West towns like Meekatharra, Morowa and Northampton are also facing a huge increase in unemployment.
QLD - Jim Madden hits out at unemployment in campaign launch
Derek Barry, Gatton Star
Ipwich West Labor candidate Jim Madden has hit out at what he called the "tragedy" of unemployment with one young person in every five out of work in the region.
Speaking at his 2015 Queensland election campaign launch on Saturday, Mr Madden said Ipswich West had an unemployment rate of 9.3% rising to 17.6% in some suburbs while youth unemployment was over 20%.
... Mr Madden said the LNP put its trust in big business to solve unemployment but Labor's policies were aimed at industry development, innovation and job creation.
"The Labor Party will always treat the unemployed with respect and not consign them to the unemployment dustbin," he said.
Tasmania struggles to fill job vacancies, despite high unemployment
Jasmine O'Donoghue, Hospitality Magazine
Tasmania’s hospitality industry has launched an employment program to address the shortage of highly skilled and semi-skilled staff.
The pilot program – or jobs drive – is a joint initiative of the Tasmanian Hospitality Association (THA) and APM (Advanced Personnel Management).
“Despite Tasmania’s unemployment rate being one of the highest in Australia at 7.2 per cent, hospitality businesses across the state have struggled to find both highly skilled and semi-skilled staff,” said the general manager of the THA, Steve Old.
Campbellfield caravan company opens doors for job seekers with mental illness
Natalie Savino, Hume Leader
A Campbellfield caravan company is behind the wheel of an initiative helping those with mental illness find work.
Colorado Caravans owner Jim Moutsias and general manager Sam Sakkal are leading the recruitment drive, with five people employed in roles ranging from bookkeeping to administration and cleaning.
Mr Sakkal said people with disabilities were often the most willing to work.
Government bows to Labor’s jobseeker amendments
Patricia Karvelas, The Australian ($)
The Abbott government has agreed to Labor Party amendments to its tough new regime for punishing unemployed people who don’t attend job-provider appointments, in order to get it through the Senate.
The ALP amendments include varying the “penalty period” from the date of non-attendance by the jobseeker to an interview to the date when the jobseeker is “notified” of their failure to attend.
The changes also enshrine in legislation the practice that a payment suspension or penalty period ends immediately if an employment provider cannot offer a jobseeker a subsequent appointment within two days of request.
UK - Welfare study: poverty and stress 'reduces chances of getting a job
Patrick Butler, The Guardian
The Coalition's "indiscriminate" welfare cuts have created a climate of fear among benefit recipients, reducing rather than improving their chances of moving into work, a study has found.
The latest instalment of a two-year qualitative research programme finds that rather than providing an incentive for unemployed individuals to find a job, the squeeze on benefits is more likely force them to retreat into day-to-day "survival mode", unable to seize opportunities to find employment.
More than 500 of Australia's 2,300 school chaplains may not be funded under the Federal Government's new chaplaincy program that begins next year, because they are not religious.
Under the Abbott Government's new policy guidelines a chaplain must be recognised by "religious qualifications or endorsements by a recognised or accepted religious institution".
Parents-to-be will be offered relationship support in ante-natal classes to try to reverse the ‘shocking’ collapse in traditional families.
Iain Duncan Smith said more parents separate in the first few years after a child’s birth than at any other time, harming a generation of youngsters.
The Work and Pensions Secretary has said it is appalling that a 16-year-old is now more likely to own a smartphone than to have their father at home.
US - Basing policy on data
Richard Reeves, Wall Street Journal
Here’s a radical idea with strong bipartisan appeal: Let’s spend our tax dollars on programs that work. It sounds like something that policymakers and legislators already ought to be doing, much as we expect that doctors and car safety engineers will do things that are likely to save our lives.
But as a new book from my Brookings colleague Ron Haskins shows, the path toward evidence-based policymaking (as opposed to its evil twin, policy-based evidence-making) is a difficult one. Vested interests, lack of data, ideological blinders, and the attraction of anecdotes all get in the way of a more scientific basis for public policy, and especially social policy.
Government keen to emulate New Zealand economic successes
Mark Colvin interviews Oliver Hartwich, PM, ABC
MARK COLVIN: But when you look at what's happened in New Zealand for instance, there's been quite a strong focus, for instance, on people on the dole, on the health system, the welfare system - that kind of thing. So obviously the first people in the firing line are the poor.
OLIVER HARTWICH: I wouldn't put it that way at all. The way I would put it is that the case for welfare reform was precisely to help those people. And to help them get off benefits and back into a regular job in the labour market, because we know from experience that's the best way for people to move forward and that's exactly what the New Zealand government has done and has actually implemented these reforms with a minister in charge who would actually credibly tell her own personal story.
Because she herself was a teenage mum on benefits and she got herself off these benefits, studied, worked hard, became a minister and she's now saying that this should actually be an inspiration, a model for the rest of the country, to get people out of benefit dependency and into the labour market again.
Why a pessimistic nation has stopped listening
Adam Creighton and David Uren, The Australian
Australians are enduring a deep-seated pessimism from a loss of confidence in social and economic institutions at the same time as growing fears of joblessness undermine the government’s economic sales pitch.
As the government embarks on a campaign to boost confidence ahead of Christmas, both economic and social commentators are highlighting the continuing anxiety about the outlook that is holding consumers back.
... Social commentators point to a more profound problem of declining faith in the ability of political leaders to deliver solutions to the problems the nation confronts.
“Pessimism is becoming a standard part of the current ethos,” said sociologist Hugh Mackay, who blames the insidious impact of the spread of business marketing techniques into political campaigns.
“If the sloganeering and branding persist, people will feel politics is being trivialised more and more, resulting in ever lower esteem for the process and the players,” Mr Mackay said, noting the new habit of wearing blue or red ties depending on political party.
Government's message too complicated
Emma Alberici interviews Mark Textor, Lateline, ABC
MARK TEXTOR: ... probably what you're seeing now is it's a very bad time to be an incumbent, number one. Economic anxiety is high and that weighs on all governments. People's questions about the loss of traditional industries and how we'll replace them with new industries and diversify economies, they - these questions still have to be answered. You don't answer them in a year and you certainly don't answer them a day or during the campaign. I think the major thing about Victoria though for me was - as an outsider, was that, essentially, at a time of great economic and international security threats, economic uncertainty and international security threats, people want stability.
Before the 2014 State Election, VCOSS summarised some of the significant policies announced by each of the major parties across the social justice sector. With the election of the ALP to government on November 29, we return to these summaries to present the policies it released before and during its election campaign.
Compassion fatigue: the cost some workers pay for caring
Amanda Lambros, The Conversation
Health and social workers often choose their profession because they want to help people. But seeing trauma and suffering on a regular basis can have a deep impact on these workers. “Compassion fatigue” is a response to the stress of caring for people at times of crisis and is often referred to as the cost of caring.
Don’t let the Church become just another NGO, Pope tells Swiss bishops
Cindy Wooden, Catholic Herald
The Catholic bishops of Switzerland have a serious obligation to ensure that the Church does not become just another non-governmental organisation (NGO), Pope Francis has said.
Speaking of the “social dimension of the Gospel” means applying the Christian message not only to questions of justice and peace, but also to the difficulties people experience in daily life, including suffering and death, the Pope told the bishops of Switzerland.