Daily News - Monday 1 September 2014

Posted 1 September 2014 7:52am

Survivors are finally being listened to. The commission on child abuse is doing a great job
Helen Davidson, The Guardian

Writing in Spectator this month, Christopher Akehurst managed to pull together no facts and a lot of ignorance in Touting for abuse, an attack on the royal commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse.

Akehurst is quite alone with this “the royal commission is a stunt” rhetoric. No one who understands anything about the work of the commission would dare to hold that view any longer, although some did when the commission was first announced. Among the many royal commissions and inquiries currently running, this one is unique in the overwhelming support for both its purpose and its conduct.


Australian immigration protesters march in silence for 300km
Helen Davidson, The Guardian

For over a week now, a group of people including former immigration detention workers, refugees and others have been slowly walking in silence from the Villawood detention centre in Sydney to Canberra, protesting against the treatment of asylum seekers across Australia’s detention network.


Poverty linked to outer suburbs
Kate Emery, The West Australian

Building affordable housing in wealthier Perth central suburbs with good public transport, instead of in outlying areas where land is cheaper, could help tackle entrenched poverty, a report has suggested.

The Committee for Perth report found that poor access to employment and education opportunities because of geography could exacerbate economic stress for low-income households.


Breakdown of the family to blame for 90% of poverty, families congress told
Melissa Davey, the Guardian

The breakdown of the family unit is responsible for 90% of the world’s poverty, the head of the World Congress of Families told its conference.

Wrapping up the controversial and chaotic Christian event in Melbourne on Saturday, the managing director of the Congress, Larry Jacobs, told attendees marriage was a lifelong union of one man and one woman, raising their children in a loving and nurturing way.


Unweaving the web of Aboriginal welfare dependency won’t be easy
Henry Ergas, The Australian

Don Weatherburn’s just published “Arresting Incarceration” is required, if deeply depressing, reading in that respect. Weatherburn, the head of the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research and one of Australia’s most distinguished criminologists, diagnoses the factors that have led to a situation where indigenous Australians — who make up 2.5 per cent of the adult population — account for 26 per cent of all adult prisoners.


BasicsCard users buying banned cigarettes with welfare, bartering groceries for alcohol and cash
Alison Branley and Norman Hermant, ABC

Welfare recipients are spending money quarantined for essentials on banned items and bartering groceries for cash and alcohol, an ABC investigation has found.

Under place-based income management, selected welfare recipients in Playford, South Australia, Shepparton,Victoria, Logan and Rockhampton in Queensland, and Bankstown, New South Wales, have 50 to 70 per cent of their benefits quarantined for essentials.


NDIS Hunter trial site problems under scrutiny
Ian Kirkwood, The Newcastle Herald

The agency in charge of building the National Disability Insurance Scheme has acknowledged problems at all of its trial sites, including the Hunter, but is promising to ‘‘tweak’’ the system where necessary.

That’s one of the main messages to emerge on the second and final day of a Newcastle conference on the NDIS organised by the Council for Intellectual Disability lobby group.


1400 to lose out under changes to the disability support pension
Patricia Karvelas, The Australian

About 1400 people stand to lose entitlements under the changes to the disability support pension announced in the budget, saving taxpayers $85.405 million over the forward estimates, ­according to figures provided to Senate estimates hearings.

National Welfare Rights Network president Maree O’Halloran said the government planned to medically review 28,000 young disability support pensioners.


Regional mental health initiative stymied
Lucy Barbour, PM, ABC

Before the 2013 federal election, the National Party made improving mental health services in rural Australia one of its signature policies.

Among the documents it used in the election campaign was the Department of Health's Hidden Toll report on mental health.

That policy outlined a national approach to mental health, suicide prevention and strategies for rural and regional care.

But this week the Coalition voted against implementing any aspects of that report.


Young men taking their lives at twice the rate in bush mental health crisis
Sue Dunleavy, News Corp Australia Network

Young men in the bush are almost twice as likely to take their lives as those living in cities in a devastating toll that underlines the crisis in mental health care in the country.

Even though 30 per cent of the population live outside metropolitan areas nearly 90 per cent of the nation’s psychiatrists are located in cities.

In some remote towns the Royal Flying Doctor Service is the only mental health service available and they are often fully booked.

And experts say the absence of mental health services means it is common for police to be called in to deal with acute episodes and transport a patient to a mental health unit which exacerbates the crisis.


Joining forces to aid in mental health crises
Andi Yu, Bendigo Advertiser

Police are often the first to respond to a mental health crisis, yet they're trained to fight crime rather than provide specialist clinical care.

But more and more, police officers are being asked to arrest people in crisis when that is the last thing the patient needs.


Complex problems require well thought out solutions
Frank Quinlan, Mental Health Australia

Welfare is currently the subject of heated debate. Everyone, it seems, has an opinion on who should receive welfare, when, how much and why.

What isn’t in question is whether or not we should have a welfare system. As a country that prides itself as ensuring a fair-go for all, welfare remains an integral part of our social psyche.


Making work, not the dole, the easier option
Jeremy Sammut, Centre for Independent Studies

Catch a suburban train to the city before 6.30 am on a weekday and the carriages are full of blue collar heroes. These people get up before dawn to commute from the outer-suburbs to work in the relatively low-paid service industry jobs that help keep the CBD open for business.

Contrast the work ethic of these people with those who can't be bothered to get out bed. Take, for example, the 40 year old, unemployed woman who said this in the Sunday Telegraph in February: 'Some of the jobs I've looked at, you get just as much when you're on the dole. Why would you want to drag yourself up at 5 am for that?'


Readers moved by the plight of Tasmania’s young unemployed
Letters, The Australian

Great to see the compassion and understanding shown by Greg Bearup towards Josh, Denica and the unemployed in Tasmania (“Down and out in Burnie”, Aug 16-17).

No cheap shots blaming the victims of political and global economic forces; just an honest attempt to show how difficult it is for young people with limited support to make their way in today’s world. We need less of the blame game and three-word slogans and more economic reform to put job creation at the heart of good government.

Brian Best

Ulverstone, Tas


Retail giants face stiff penalties for underpaying trolley workers
Emily Bourke, PM, ABC

The Fair Work ombudsman has issued a stern warning to Australia's big retailers that they face stiff penalties over the underpayment of shopping trolley collectors.

Forty per cent of trolley workers don't have education beyond Year 10, half are under 25 and some are disabled.

The workplace watchdog says exploitation is rampant and the big retailers can't continue to shirk their legal responsibilities by relying on labour-hire subcontractors.

Janine Webster, chief counsel for the Fair Work Ombudsman, spoke to Emily Bourke.


US - Using Gambling to Entice Low-Income Families to Save
Patricia Cohen, The New York Times

While building up savings offers the best route out of poverty, the glamourless grind of socking away a dollar here and there has a tough time competing with the heady fantasy of a Mega Millions jackpot. But instead of attacking lotteries, a growing number of credit unions and nonprofit groups are using them to encourage low-income families to save.


Robin Hood is alive and well in Australia
Robert Carling, Centre for Independent Studies

Fairness is a matter of opinion, but one that should be informed by facts and analysis.

Opponents of the budget have done a great job of branding it as "unfair" through repetition of assertions rather than by appeal to facts and analysis. Here are a few relevant facts.


Are we seeing the death of the two-party system?
Mark Triffitt, WA Today

The recent airing of vile social media posts by some young Liberals might hardly seem the grounds to announce our democratic system is in terminal decline. After all, claims that some within our major political parties are short of ethics or common sense are not new.

What parties need to do, party elders and political commentators argue, is to renew their ranks with more mature and 'in-touch' people and all will be well. But what if the problem now goes much deeper? What if our major parties have become safe havens and last bastions for beliefs and behaviours that most of us find hard to relate to, if not unacceptable in the 21st century.


For democracy's sake, give power to the people
Nichoals Reece, The Canberra Times

A radical experiment in democracy has begun at Melbourne Town Hall. But it does not involve online activism, marching in the streets, or the Occupy Movement. Instead it draws on the earliest democratic traditions together with some new thinking from social scientists to trial a new approach to public decision-making on tough issues.

Melbourne City Council has recruited a "People's Panel" of everyday Melburnians to make recommendations on how the council should prioritise spending over the next decade. The panel comprises 46 residents, business owners and students who have been randomly selected to represent a broad cross-section of the community.


Social Media and the ‘Spiral of Silence’
Pew Research Internet Project

A major insight into human behavior from pre-internet era studies of communication is the tendency of people not to speak up about policy issues in public—or among their family, friends, and work colleagues—when they believe their own point of view is not widely shared. This tendency is called the “spiral of silence.”1

Some social media creators and supporters have hoped that social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter might produce different enough discussion venues that those with minority views might feel freer to express their opinions, thus broadening public discourse and adding new perspectives to everyday discussion of political issues.

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