Aspect October 2015

Aspect Newsletter

From the Deputy Director

We live in interesting times

Roland MandersonA change of leadership always makes for interesting times. There’s clearly a more positive tone in public affairs since mid-September when the Liberal Party replaced Tony Abbott with Malcolm Turnbull as its leader, although we are yet to see how much difference this will make to the wellbeing of the people Anglicare services see on a daily basis.

There has been wide ranging endorsement of the government’s decision to put back on the table a number of policy matters or possible initiatives that were previously ruled out. And engaging in a public debate that is focussed on possibility and ambition rather than risk and fear is in itself a much more worthwhile activity.

Anglicare Australia, along with others in the sector, has been a part of a number of constructive conversations and meetings with Ministers and staff over the past few weeks. And, as in all new beginnings, it makes sense to be cautiously optimistic and be prepared to offer our evidence, and insight, and expertise once again.

However, there are some fundamental issues that still need wrestling with, and a change in the weather doesn’t necessarily mean change in the climate.

Let’s use an example.

Over the past week or two there has been discussion about a more moderate approach than originally proposed to cutting back Family Tax Benefits. This initiative was intended to bring down the government’s welfare expenses by cutting the eligibility of people for Family Tax Benefits (FTB) B, targeted payments available to people living low incomes.

Originally the proposal was for FTB B to end when children turned six. That’s been changed so that it would end when children turn 13. But the proposal would still cut the standard of living for single parents and other families on low incomes, something rather clearly identified in our analysis in Who is being left behind?, the new State of the Family report.

Many of you might have noticed that the new Treasurer’s response to these ongoing concerns – particularly that they are to the detriment of single parents and people looking after their grandchildren – was to say that was a simple fix. If Labor was prepared to make an agreement then maybe payments to some single parents and grandparents could be, well, ‘grandfathered’.

In the interest of garnering support for the cuts to payments overall then, various groups could be protected. It is hard to see if that change is driven by better outcomes for people in the community or simply getting it through the Senate. The relevant cross benchers in the Senate would probably argue it’s a bit of both.

What has not featured in comments from government to date is any reflection on the life of the people likely to be affected. As our research has found over the past three or four years, the problem for people on low incomes –particularly people with insufficient work or who are out of work –is in the supply of appropriate employment. Cutting the income to families won’t make more jobs available.

Nor, it seems very clear, will it make people somehow find work or look harder for it.

In fact all the evidence we have points to the contrary. Lower incomes in these circumstances are linked to food insecurity, social exclusion, incapacity to find and keep work, poor health and educational outcomes.

So one of the key issues that is YET to be put back on the table is income adequacy. And one of the implications that is still ON the table, and needs to be taken off, is that our growing welfare bill could and should be reduced by simply lowering the living standards of people who need our support.

Lewis Carroll’s famous poem, The Walrus and the Carpenter, is the story of two men strolling along a beach, and summoning up a mob of enthusiastic and gullible young oysters. At the end of their walk, the Carpenter unapologetically eats them up, muttering about more bread and butter as he goes. The Walrus meanwhile talks the talk of care and compassion: is it too hot? Are the oysters tired? But he surreptitiously tucks into the fattest of them all, and as many as he can, nonetheless.

Unless Australia’s current debate over social support and our welfare budget moves on from making special allowances and concessions for more or less political purposes, and looks at the necessary level of support overall, then the difference between Scott Morrison and Malcolm Turnbull on the one hand and Joe Hockey and Tony Abbott on the other might simply prove to be the difference between the Walrus and the Carpenter. Changing the tone of a debate can only take you so far.

National Office News

Launch of the State of the Family Report

Who is being left behind?, Anglicare Australia’s 2015 State of the Family report was launched at a press conference at Parliament House, Canberra, during Anti-Poverty Week.

The report includes analysis of the growing inequality in our society and who is at risk of living with deep and persistent disadvantage. It features stories from our network of the kinds of support that can make a difference, and some of the structural inequity that results in people being left behind.

Joining Anglicare Australia Executive Director, Kasy Chambers at the press conference was Principal Researcher at the University of Canberra’s National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling (NATSEM), Ben Phillips, Sarah who was featured in the report, Penny, an older woman experiencing insecure housing and Tilly, a young mother who has experienced homelessness.

Sarah Coker is a young single mother with a three year old daughter, Emily, who was born very prematurely and is her “little miracle”. Sarah lives in a Tasmanian suburb where statistics indicate that the odds are stacked against her. Her neighbourhood has a name synonymous with entrenched disadvantage. However, there is an Anglicare Tasmania initiative, Every Child Succeeds, at work in the Launceston-Tamar Valley area and of which Sarah is an active participant. She is balancing parenthood with casual work, volunteering and study. And she is optimistic about the future of her daughter and herself.

Penny Leemhuis is a social justice advocate who lives in the ACT. Since 2014 Penny has represented Older Women at Risk of Housing Vulnerability. She undertakes her advocacy by working independently and collaboratively with housing and equal rights organisations. At one stage in her life, not that long ago, Penny had no-where to go, no-where to call home. A disability that prohibits her from full time employment, a relationship breakdown with inequitable settlement, in combination with her age and no superannuation, have left Penny in an unstable and precarious position regarding secure affordable housing. She currently rents a room in a house that is not suitable for the nature of her disability, and is on the waiting list for public housing. Not to be stifled by her situation, Penny is a Lifeline Telephone Crisis Support volunteer, an ACT Shelter & Tenancy Union committee member and is studying at university part time.

Tilleah Roselli, who also lives in the ACT, thought she had reached rock bottom when she was living in a refuge with her baby son next door to marijuana smokers. She was 21, and needed somewhere stable to call home. Tilly was first homeless when she was 13 and has lived in some pretty bad places. She has squatted, lived on the street and stayed with friends. Tilly now lives in a government-subsidised private rental with her son and has a job at an early childhood school. Despite having to spend more than half her income on rent, she couldn’t be happier. “The happiness you feel when you can provide a home that is safe for your child is just beyond words.”

National media interest in the report this year was widespread, with coverage secured in The Australian, The Guardian, ABC radio and television, Channel 7 news and SBS TV news, to name a few. Media release support was also received from Australian Greens (Larissa Waters) and the ALP (Jenny Macklin).

A Twitter social media campaign during Anti-Poverty Week also supported the release of the State of the Family report, with support by Anglicare members with a Twitter account (eg, EPIC Assist, Anglicare ACT, Benetas, ST John’s Youth Services, Anglicare Central Queensland), ACOSS member organisations (eg, ACOSS, NCOSS, TasCOSS, Mission Australia, Youth Coalition, Shelter, AYAC, Cota Australia, Homelessness Australia), other peak organisations and individuals. Our Twitter followers increased by at least 100 during that week.
State of the Family report launch group
Speaking at the 2015 State of the Family report launch at Parliament House, Canberra [L to R]: Penny Leemhuis, Anglicare Australia Executive Director, Kasy Chambers, Sarah Coker, Tilly Roselli and NATSEM Principal Researcher, Ben Phillips.

Anglicare Australia ED meets new Social Services Minister

Anglicare Australia Executive Director, Kasy Chambers met with the new Minister for Social Services, Christian Porter (right), in October.

Kasy said he said he was impressed with the body of work of the Anglicare network and that our recent NATSEM report was one of the first things he read on coming into the portfolio. By December he hopes to be in a position to get out and visit services, and Kasy gave him an open invitation to services within our network.

On his appointment, Minister Porter said in a media release that social services was a broad portfolio, but it all came back to one thing – improving the lifetime wellbeing of people and families in Australia, and in particular the most vulnerable in our communities.

Changes under new Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, have seen seniors and ageing policy moved to the Department of Health, and childcare policy moved to the Department of Education and Training.

Minister Porter said these changes would allow him to provide a strong focus on disability issues, including the rollout of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister, Alan Tudge, has been appointed Assistant Minister for Social Services.

In other changes, Minister Fiona Nash will hold the portfolio of Rural Health Minister, which will include ongoing responsibility for rural and indigenous health, drug and alcohol policy and organ donation, and Assistant Minister Ken Wyatt will hold the portfolio of Assistant Minister for Health with responsibility to Assisting the Minister for Aged Care.

Turnbull Ministry list

Roland presents at Nanjing Conference

Anglicare Australia Deputy Dirctor, Roland Manderson, recently presented at a conference in Nanjing, China, in October.

I was invited to give a paper to the 2nd Amity International Senior Service Conference & Elderly Social Work Conference in Nanjing, China in mid-October. My theme was an Anglicare network perspective on meaning in the lives of people living with dementia. I conducted a workshop with 55 church social service leaders, and then presented a paper to the conference proper, Supporting people living with dementia to find meaning in their lives.

For me this has been the start of a process of learning more about how we – in our network – embrace the important work of caring for and valuing our oldest and most frail among us.

Clearly the challenge of ageing demographic is worldwide.

The problem, many people from China said, is that they get old before they get rich. However, one of the concerns that we shared at the conference - a key interest of mine as an Anglicare representative - is how we take into account the fact that no matter how much our economies grow, not everyone will be rich or even comfortable. And indeed, that’s not the point. Instead we need organise our economies and our society to provide the care that is needed for everyone among us; that we don’t leave people behind in their growing vulnerability.

The Japanese delegation gave us some real insights into what kind of community approaches might work. For example, there are over a thousand dementia centres across the country. Each one serving a local population of 10,000. Local shops, libraries, hostels and police are linked into the centres. If elderly neighbours or customers appear to be lost or confused, then the centre is contacted. People look out for each other through a kind of community support scheme that assists people to live positively in their communities, to continue with a meaningful life.

As a part of this approach there is a lot of work about dementia, old age and frailty in Japanese schools. And there is a lot of work school students do with their older citizens outside of school too.

Maybe it’s because Japan has the oldest population in the world, and has had for quite a while. They are further down the path of living with old age and dementia.

And the speakers from the US provided some reality insights into healthy and sustaining activity, bringing the physical and the spiritual together. As well as the risk of an over medicalised approach to aging. And they drew out the hidden and hard edge of aged care right cross the world, our ongoing dependence on the family carers, and explored what we - US, Hong Kong, Japan, Australia – can do to support them.

Our hosts, Amity Foundation, ran a really valuable event. It was clearly a wonderful opportunity for Chinese people who work in aged care to listen to local and international experts, and to talk and work with each other. Amity Foundation has published a report of the conference on its website.

Chu Chaoyu, Director of the Amity Social Service Center, visited the Anglicare Australia conference in Melbourne last year. He was the one who invited me to come to Nanjing this year. In his presentation, he didn’t talk about theory or practice of aged care, but rather the work of Amity more broadly. Relative to other organisations in China, Amity seems to be a large NGO, with its international support giving it some flexibility and scope. Mr Chu talked about how Amity draws on its church communities in delivering its social work and on how it supports other NGOs in China. And how it is making a contribution, too, in Ethiopa and Nepal.

The other insight for me was about China. On the last day we heard about remote under-resourced services working with the ‘left behind’ – women, children and the elderly in rural China. And from a regional politician and NGO chairman, we heard a sharp critique of the real estate developers who invest in under-used top end aged care, while those in most need have access to nothing. The final comments were about Web 2.0. Government has said to use the web. That doesn’t mean deliver the same services with new technology, our speaker told us. She said we should be thinking about Uber Aged Care, or something similar, instead, because this kind of responsiveness and flexibility is what will drive our future systems.

My thanks go to the great team of workers and translators and experts from Amity Foundation who invited me to their conference and looked after me on my visit. I commend Nanjing as a relaxed, easy going city (of around 6.5 million people!) and a rich and ever present cultural heritage.

 

[LEFT] Anglicare Australia Deputy Director, Roland Manderson supports Deborah Harbinson from Arizona deliver a laughing workshop. [LEFT] An enthusiastic room of conference delegates.

Delegates of the 2nd Amity Senior Service Conference & Elderly Social Work Conference in Nanjing, China. Roland is front and centre in row 3.

National Awards Profile

National Award Winner - EXCELLENCE - Anglicare Southern Queensland

Welcome to the first in our series of profiles on the winners and highly commended of the Anglicare Australia 2014 National Awards for Innovation and Excellence.These profiles will also be featured in The Anglicare Australia Review, which will be released in early February 2016.

The EXCELLENCE category is for a particular service or project or for the overall service provided by an agency.

 

 

LITERACY IS INCLUSION!

The Reading and Writing Group, or RAW, was inspired by the personal journey of the late Carmel Rosella, a woman who, despite a learning disability, created an active life, including a job and literacy for herself and many others.

People with mental health problems, learning difficulties and poor literacy and numeracy are very much at risk of social exclusion, including homelessness.

Carmel’s vision formed the foundation of the group; recognising that everyone has a right to learning and literacy, and that positive educational experiences in safe and supportive environments reinforce and develop people’s strengths, unique talents and capacities.

Under the stewardship of Anglicare Southern Queensland, RAW is coordinated by A Place to Belong in West End, Brisbane, a small organisation working to build inclusion for people who experience mental health challenges.

The group is specifically tailored to meet the needs of people with mental health challenges or learning difficulties who cannot access mainstream educational institutions, such as TAFE and vocational training.

He was learning to read, but he wasn’t learning to live was published by Anglicare Southern Queensland following a year’s research into the work of the Reading and Writing Group.

The research project began as an exploration of how a community-based adult literacy program evolved into a successful model of ‘socially inclusive learning’.

Essentially, it came down to co-locating a literacy and numeracy program with an agency that works on social inclusion. Not just the geographical proximity, but an active referral between the two arms of the agency.

It is also the understanding among those teachers that learning is a partnership. That assessment and diagnosis comes after, not before, spending time with the students. That learning goals and learning styles need to be individually tailored if they are to engage the learner and keep them coming back each week.

The teacher engages with the expressed and felt needs of people for a better life, by adapting the learning to support those aspirations. There are a number of stories told in the report that illustrate this.

Some former RAW students have gone on to paid employment, independent living and mainstream education. Others have become more mobile in their communities through their ability to read bus and train timetables. Some have proudly written their first book, first poem or performed music in a public setting. Some ex-students have returned as volunteers or part-time employees, modelling their newly acquired skills and confidence for the benefit of others.

The national award judges felt this project was a highly effective quiet achiever. It was about real social inclusion outcomes and not simply linked to employment.

 

The presenting reason for learning to read and write may be as simple as, “I want to be able to read bus names”. However, as the student and teacher partnership becomes more trusting, the student may reveal deeper reasons for why they want to be literate. These needs are the powerful ‘drivers’ for improvement and change, and includes such things as a longing to have friends, to be accepted with respect, and to live independently. In RAW teacher, Damian Le Goullon’s words, “Literacy is inclusion!”

 

Award judge and Telstra representative, Robert Morsillo, with Excellence Award winner, Damian Le Goullon. Photo: Josh Sellick, End Vision Photography.

Anglicare Network News

The Buttery Tackles the Issue of Ice

The Buttery has been treating people in its residential recovery program for ice (Crystal Methamphetamine) addiction for several years. The Buttery is now preparing for a sharp increase in the number of people seeking treatment for the drug.

“People are still living in the community and using ice, without feeling the need to seek residential treatment yet. The pattern is that when people hit rock bottom and suffer serious ill health or other consequences from their addiction they seek treatment,” said The Buttery’s Residential Programs Manager, Trent Rees.

In recognition of the seriousness of ice addiction, a symposium was convened by the Northern NSW Local Health District, which was attended local health service representatives including The Buttery’s, CEO John Mundy and Trent. The symposium heard that people withdrawing from ice exhibit increased aggression, paranoia, and anxiety among other behavioural issues. In response to this, The Buttery has modified its approach to treatment.

The Prime Minister has also formed a national taskforce to deal with the issue.

 

Deputy Health Minister, Senator Fiona Nash visited The Buttery as part of the taskforce to gather information about treatment options. With CEO John Mundy at The Buttery.

 

The use, treatment and availability of ‘ice’ have increased, according to a report, Trends in methylamphetamine availability, use and treatment 2003–04 to 2013–14, released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The report shows the number of new meth/amphetamine users (including methylamphetamine and amphetamine users) who mainly use ‘ice’ has increased. The proportion of new meth/amphetamine users opting for ‘ice’, rather than other forms of the drug (eg, powder), increased from 26% in 2007 to 43% in 2013.

 

Helping recovery with financial counselling

Therapists at The Buttery work constantly to make its rehabilitation program more effective in preventing relapse. The most recent follow-up survey shows that 72% of those surveyed five years after completion are abstinent of drugs and alcohol. Although a very good result, there is always scope for improvement.

Research shows that anxiety over finances is a major contributor to relapse after treatment.

With funding from the Ian Potter Foundation, The Buttery is pioneering a financial counselling and education program to help people manage their finances and develop financial literacy. A licensed financial counsellor and a qualified addiction counsellor, is leading the program.

When people complete The Buttery program, their anxiety around their finances is greatly reduced.

Benetas strengthened by key appointment

Anglicare member, Benetas has appointed a new Innovation, Policy and Research Manager, Dr Sophie Mepham (right), to drive the organisation’s advocacy agenda.

Sophie will be responsible for managing Benetas’ significant portfolio of research projects. She comes to the role with an extensive research background, including running a large clinical research unit at the Peter MacCullum Cancer Centre and working with the Federal Department of Industry, the National Health and Medical Research Council and Swinburne University on national clinical research projects.

Sophie said her vision for the role would focus on working closely with key internal and external stakeholders to further the innovative, evidence-based programs offered by Benetas.

 

From little things big things grow

The seeds of an innovative partnership between Benetas and local school Padua College have been planted, with students revamping the dementia garden at Corowa Court in Mornington, Victoria.

The initiative is part of the Year 12 students’ Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning assessment and was introduced as part of Benetas’ commitment to challenging stereotypes around ageing and aged care, particularly amongst younger people.

The students’ time at the facility, which involved several learning and development sessions on better understanding dementia and the needs of older people, has seen them work in pairs to design one segment of the garden each based on important dementia gardening design elements.

Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning students from Padua College at work with a resident at Benetas Corowa Court to develop a dementia garden.

 

Benetas welcomes Aged Care Minister

Benetas has welcomed the recognition of Aged Care as a separate cabinet portfolio and the appointment of Sussan Ley as Minister for Aged Care.

“The needs of older Australians and their families are becoming increasingly complex and urgent,” said Benetas CEO, Sandra Hills. “We hope the decision to appoint Ms Ley results in a strengthened focus on delivering the integrated and high quality support older people in our community deserve.”

Sandra said Benetas was supportive of the Government’s decision to align Aged Care with Ms Ley’s existing ministeries of Health and Sport. “We believe Ms Ley’s appointment recognises the critical relationship between ageing and health,” she said.

Helping older people keep in contact

Anglicare Tasmania is trialing the use of iPads by 12 elderly people who receive AT HOME services.

The Keeping in Contact project, which has been designed to encourage use of a device by people with little or no experience of touchscreen technology, aims to increase participants’ levels of communication and engagement with family, community and the wider world.

Within an hour of basic training, one participant was able to see pictures of his home town on an island on the other side of the world. He had often felt homesick and disconnected, and was overjoyed to see the views that he had missed for so long.

The project is also testing the use of video conferencing, with an application specially developed by local company 3Tier Technology.

New accommodation units at ac.care

Two new youth accommodation units have been opened by Anglicare member, ac.care; one in Waikerie and the other in Mount Gambier, South Australia.

LEAP (Limestone Coast Education Accommodation Program) has been funded by the local business community and others at the biannual Support Homeless People luncheon.

REAP, in the Riverland, has been supported by donations and funding.

The units will be intensively case managed collaboratively with key services agencies to ensure a successful outcome for the young people. In the Riverland, the agencies include the Department of Education and Junction Women’s Housing, and in the Limestone Coast, it is with the Department of Education and Hypa.

ac.care 2014-15 at a glance

ac.care operates across 10 sites in the southern country region of South Australia. Below is a snapshot of the organisation's work, as featured in its latest Annual Report.

 

Family centre opens on fast growing fringe

Mernda, situated 30 kilometres north of Melbourne's CBD, is known as Australia's fastest growing postcode. In a little more than four months, Anglicare member, the Brotherhood of St Laurence's newly established presence has seen a huge uptake in its services.

The Jindi Family and Community Centre puts into practice the Brotherhood’s particular focus on outer suburban and rural areas, where a lack of services and jobs holds back people, families and communities and makes them particularly vulnerable to social and economic exclusion.

In collaboration with the Whittlesea Council and Goodstart Early Learning, the Brotherhood is now working with more than 100 families through its kindergarten programs, playgroups and maternal and child health services. All the children have an education and wellbeing plan to guide their development and help in their transition to school.

The organisations is also working with parents on their education and employment needs, including referrals to local services, practical support (such as resume development) and pre-employment programs for parents.

EPIC Assist calls for art submissions

The theme for International Day for People with Disabilities (IDPwD) on 3 December 2015 - Inclusion matters: access and empowerment for people of all abilities - could not be more fitting for the work at EPIC Assist.

To celebrate IDPwD 2015, EPIC Assist is collecting artworks from artists with disabilities covering all mediums, and the favourite submissions will be showcased in an exhibition in Brisbane on 3 December.

 

 

Jayden’s EPIC story

EPIC Assist has produced a video on how the organisation helped Jayden make his career dreams a reality.

Jayden learnt about EPIC Assist last year as a Year 12 student at Cleveland District State High School, QLD, when he met Employment Consultant, Priscilla. Jayden came to EPIC in the hopes of getting a traineeship in the media industry where he could “pursue something [he has] dreamed about for ages”.

An opportunity arose at iNVISAGE Media and the fit was perfect. “Before I knew it I was in my dream job. I was doing exactly what I wanted,” said Jayden. Jonathan Thomsen, CEO of iNVISAGE, was impressed with Jayden’s enthusiasm and his ‘eye for detail’. “I could tell he was very passionate about photography and cinematography,” said Jonathan

Supporting the State of the Family

EPIC’s Disability Services Manager, David Law wrote a chapter for the 2015 State of the Family report on the organisation’s Transition Pathways submission, which focuses on young people with disability transitioning from school to employment.

“Young people with disability are more likely to drop out of school early, have fewer educational qualifications and often miss out on opportunities that young people without disability participate in as a matter of course.”

Register your IDPwD event now


Anglicare organisations interested in marking this year’s International Day of People with Disability (IDPwD) can now register their planned events on the IDPwD website.

IDPwD is celebrated globally on 3 December each year and almost 1000 events were registered across Australia last year. It’s a great day for the community to come together and recognise people with disability, their families and carers.

Australia’s Patron for 2015 International Day of People with Disability is John Walsh AM who has lived with quadriplegia since being injured playing rugby league at university. He is a dedicated disability rights advocate who has been instrumental in establishing the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

Organisers who register their IDPwD events before Wednesday 18 November will receive promotional packs for their celebrations.

To register an event, go to the IDPwD website or call 1800 440 385. TTY users can phone 1800 555 677 and ask for 1800 440 385.

Addiction 2016 Conference

If you would like to present at The Australian & New Zealand Addiction Conference, abstract submissions are now being accepted.

The 2016 Conference will address the treatment and recovery of alcohol, other drugs and behavioural addictions. The program includes workshops, presentations and forums dedicated to sharing skills and understanding in the treatment of all addictive disorders, including alcohol and other drugs, behavioural addictions, and the emerging field of online compulsive behaviour in both adults and children.

Abstract submissions may address one of the following:

  • Prevention and early intervention
  • Treatment approaches
  • Recovery
  • Research and policy
  • Working with vulnerable groups: Indigenous, youth, rural populations
  • Mental Health Impacts: decision making and drug use
  • Methamphetamine: Impact of ICE
  • Drug Addictions: trends and misuse
  • Custodial and forensic settings: programs and services
  • Addiction professional: support and training
  • Addictive disorders and attachment
  • Behavioural addictions: gaming, gambling, sex, online.

Research and Resources

Sick with Worry report

The St Vincent de Paul Society has marked Anti-Poverty Week 2015 with the launch of the Sick with worry… report, containing stories from the front-line of inequality and 14 recommendations for urgent action by the federal government to help enable people to achieve their dreams of a life without poverty.

The report comprises more than 20 stories from people located around Australia who are assisted by the St Vincent de Paul Society.

The stigma faced by those living in poverty, the inherent insecurity that homelessness and housing stress entails and the disproportionate impact of poverty on women emerged as key themes.

New data display tracks safety wellbeing of children

The release of a new series of ‘dynamic data displays’ from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) aims to allow governments, decision makers, and members of the public to better understand and track Australia’s progress in keeping children and young people safe and well.

The online data displays present data relating to the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2009-2020—a long-term plan to promote and enhance the safety and wellbeing of Australia’s children.

The release shows that in 2013–14 the rate of children subject to a child protection substantiation of abuse or neglect (that is, the alleged abuse/neglect was deemed ‘substantiated’, following an investigation) was similar to that for the previous year, at 7.8 per 1,000 children aged 0–17, and higher than the rate of 6.2 recorded in 2009–10.

The displays also show that the rate of children in out-of-home care has increased from 7.9 per 1,000 in 2010 to 9.2 in 2014, with Indigenous children and young people consistently overrepresented. The rate of Indigenous children in out-of-home care in 2014 was 51.4 per 1,000 compared to a rate of 5.6 for non-Indigenous children.

Children in care at greater risk academically

Another AIHW report, Educational outcomes for children in care: linking 2013 child protection and NAPLAN data, has found that children in care are less likely to achieve nationally agreed literacy and numeracy standards when compared with all students in Australia.

The report linked data from the Child Protection National Minimum Data Set and the National Assessment Program―Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) to explore the academic performance of children in care, and included over 3,500 children in care (aged between 7 and 17) from six states and territories (NSW, VIC, WA, TAS, ACT and NT).

NAPLAN assesses students on reading, writing, spelling, grammar and punctuation, and numeracy skills, measured against agreed national minimum standards for Years 3, 5, 7 and 9. Children whose scores fall below these benchmarks are likely to have difficulty making satisfactory progress at school.

Youth mental health report

A joint report released by Mission Australia and Black Dog Institute shows a marked increase in the prevalence of probable serious mental illness among young females.

The survey, Young people's mental health over the years: Youth Survey 2012-14, collects information on a broad range of issues, including levels of psychological distress in young people aged 15-17.

  • One in five young people aged 15 to 17 had a level of psychological distress indicating a probable serious mental illness.
  • Young females were almost twice as likely to have a probable serious mental illness than young males (26.5% of females, compared to 13.9% of males). The prevalence of probable serious mental illness among young females increased between 2012 to 2014 (from 23.2% to 26.5%).
  • Young people with a probable serious mental illness were much more likely to be very or extremely concerned about coping with stress, school and study, body image and depression.
  • Young people with a probable serious mental illness said that they would be most comfortable seeking help from friends, the internet, parents and relatives or family friends. Young people living outside capital cities were less likely to be comfortable going to the internet or online counselling websites for help.

Life after Year 12 exams

Prominent Australians have joined a campaign by leading online youth mental health organisation ReachOut.com to show Year 12 students that There’s Life After Year 12 Exams.

There’s Life After Year 12 Exams is a national campaign that’s designed to help Year 12 students manage stress and anxiety at exam time. Year 12 students often feel like there is only one path to their future, when there are many different options, opportunities and career paths.

The ReachOut organisation is expecting to see large numbers of young people turn to ReachOut.com over the coming months. There were more than 80,000 visits by young Australians during 2014’s exam period, and views of study and stress-related content increased by more than 500%.

Missing School 2015 series

A series of three reports, Missing School – Full report: School connection for seriously sick kids: who are they, how do we know what works, and whose job is it?, have been developed as part of a program of work undertaken by the Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth and Missing School Inc.

The program has sought to examine current evidence, policies and approaches for supporting the education of students who experience non-negligible school absences because of significant illness or injury.

Students who miss school because of significant illness or injury face a variety of challenges in their education and may experience a range of adverse short-term and long-term consequences. Academic achievement may be affected, school relationships can be disrupted, motivation and engagement diminished, and isolation from the school community and peer group can have a profound effect on the student's social and emotional wellbeing.

The aim of this research is to understand the situation in which these students find themselves and whether it is adequately addressed. Each report addresses a separate question around how – and whether – these students are supported in their education.

Volunteer grants for small organisations

The Australian Government is inviting organisations to apply for Volunteer Grants 2015.

Funding is expected to be offered to around 5,700 organisations as a result of this process, with grants to be paid by 30 June 2016.

Volunteer Grants enable small community organisations to apply for grants of up to $5,000 to purchase small equipment items to assist their volunteers, assist with the reimbursement of fuel costs incurred by volunteers (and transport costs for volunteers with disability who are unable to drive), and contribute towards the cost of training courses and background screening checks for volunteers.

Applications close at 2:00pm AEDT on 9 December 2015.

Government Policy and Information

Royal Commission research report released

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has released a research report on understanding failure to identify and report child sexual abuse.

The research, Hear no evil, see no evil: understanding failure to identify and report child abuse in institutional contextsdraws on two Royal Commission case studies and offers speculative findings on individual and organisational factors that have contributed to the failure to protect children in a timely and effective way.

The study identifies a number of challenges to creating and maintaining a safe organisation where staff members are quick to recognise grooming or abuse behaviour, and trigger a process that investigates concerns and can take appropriate action so that children are protected from harm. The report contains useful examples of what organisations can do to make themselves safer places for children.

Information for aged care providers

The Department of Social Services has released Issue 28 of its newsletter for aged care providers. Information covers:

  • calculating interest on refundable deposit balances
  • CHSP client contribution framework and reporting requirements
  • Home Care 2014-15 reporting due 31 October 2015
  • Home Care Packages Program Operation Manual available now
  • evaluation reports released for Home Care Packages and CDC
  • share your positive complaint handling experiences
  • how can referring to an aged care advocacy service help consumers.

Work experience to help job seekers into work

New national work experience program - jobactive - has commenced to help job seekers gain valuable experience in workplaces around the country.

In an initiative which aims to facilitate a transition into a paid role, employers who go on to offer a young person paid employment after their placement may be eligible to receive a wage subsidy of up to $6,500 over 12 months.

Eligible job seekers will be able to volunteer to undertake work experience in businesses for up to 25 hours per week for a maximum of four weeks. They will continue to receive their income support payment while in an unpaid placement together with a supplement to assist with the costs of participation.

Appointments to ILC Board

During October, replacements to four expiring appointments to the Board of the Indigenous Land Corporation (ILC) were announced. The ILC aims to advance economic, environmental, social and cultural outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their communities.

The current Director, Lisa Gay, has been appointed Deputy Chair of the organisation for one year, effective from 20 October 2015. Patricia Crossin and Bruce Martin will be Directors for four years, and Tanya Hosch and Anthony Ashby, Directors for three years, also from 20 October 2015.

Ms Crossin is a former Senator for the Northern Territory with much of her public life dedicated to working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Mr Martin is a Wik man from Cape York who brings direct experience in agribusiness as well chairing the Economic Development committee of the Indigenous Advisory Council. Ms Hosch is a Torres Strait Islander woman and Joint Campaign Director for Recognise. Mr Ashby is a Gamilaraay-Yuwaalaraay man from north-western New South Wales, a Chartered Accountant, Registered Company Auditor and as the current Deputy Chair of Indigenous Business Australia will be able to help increase collaboration between these organisations.

Anglicare Events

Anglicare Events [10.15]

Anglicare Australia Council meeting
Date: 11 November 2015
Location: Canberra

 

Brotherhood of St Laurence lunchtime seminar
Date: Thursday 12 November, 12noon to 1pm
Venue: Father Tucker's Room at the Brotherhood, 67 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy
RSVP: [email protected]

Professor Keith Jacobs, University of Tasmania presents Individualised and market- based assistance: a critical appraisal of contemporary Australian housing policymaking.
Over the past two decades, Australian policymakers have pursued reforms directed towards more individualised forms of housing assistance through market based mechanisms and flexible forms of service delivery. Some of the initiatives include: the extension of government rental assistance; homeownership support programs; privatisation and stock transfer of public housing, and client based services for the homeless. In this paper, which draws from a recent research project, Professor Jacobs adopts a critical appraisal of these reforms by seeking to contextualise them in the wider setting of neoliberal ideology. His key argument is that whilst these reforms are likely to create opportunities for the commercial sector to make profits, they will have an adverse impact for welfare service providers and do little to assist low-income households. Until Australian policymakers embrace more collective forms of intervention that address social inequality, the prospects for the disadvantaged will remain bleak. He concludes by asking how we might advance a more progressive reform agenda that counters the insidious effects of neoliberal ideology.

Prior coming to Tasmania, Professor Keith Jacobs worked as a lecturer in housing studies at the University of Westminster, London. He has published widely on urban policy issues, and is the author of The Dynamics of Local Housing Policy published by Ashgate Press (1999) and Social Constructionism in Housing Research (2004) edited with Jim Kemeny and Tony Manzi (Ashgate Press).
 

Benetas Industry Breakfast

Date: 8.30-10.30am | 26 November
Venue: Zinc, Federation Square, Melbourne
RSVP: Marketing & Communications Team, 03 8823 7900, [email protected]

Sector Events

Sector Events [10.15]

Not For Profit Leaders: What’s your endgame?
Date/Venue: 10am-2.30pm, 6 November | Moonee Valley Racing Club, Moonee Ponds, Melbourne
Date/Venue: 10am-2.30pm, 9 November | Cliftons, Sydney CBD

Australian Long-Term Unemployment Conference
Date: 9-10 November 2015
Venue: Pullman Melbourne on the Park
 
FRSA National Conference
Date: 10-12 November 2015
Venue: Brisbane Convention Centre

National Complex Needs Conference

Date: 17-18 November 2015
Venue: Canberra Rex Hotel
 
Policy and Pulse: Australian Community Sector Policy and Research Forum 2015
Date: 23-24 November 2015
Venue: Dockside, Cockle Bay Wharf, Sydney
 
Transfer of care for complex consumers: Driving better outcomes for older people
Date: 1-3 December 2015
Venue: The Grace Hotel, Sydney
 
2016

Australian and New Zealand Addiction Conference
Date: 18-20 May 206
Venue: Mantra on View Hotel, Gold Coast, QLD
 
AIFS 2016 Conference
Date: 6-8 July 2015
Venue: Melbourne Convention Centre
 
2016 International Dementia Conference
Date: 16-17 June 2016
Venue: Hilton Sydney

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