Detoxing Democracy: bringing citizen deliberation into government administration

DETOXING DEMOCRACY: Citizen deliberation is a powerful tool for legitimisation, but can it become institutionalised? Just as Yarra Valley Water consulted its community in a way that encouraged their close deliberation on the issues, agencies could cultivate councils of people reflective of community makeup for ongoing capacity to reflect community deliberation.

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Think tanks can transform into the standard-setters and arbiters of quality of 21st century policy analysis

In recent years, think tanks have been beset by financial constraints, increased competition, and, more recently, a growing questioning of, and popular dissatisfaction with, the role of the ‘expert’ itself. Marcos Gonzalez HernandoDiane Stone and Hartwig Pautz examine each of these challenges and find that, at a time of huge over-supply of (occasionally dubious) evidence and policy analysis from a variety of sources, think tanks have an opportunity to reinvent themselves as organisations able to discern the reliability and usefulness of policy advice.

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"Yes, Virginia, there is a thing called Society": Social policy and the voluntary sector 2017

The start of 2017 has been marked by growing tensions between socially disparate forces eager to disentangle from the decades-long pervasiveness of neoliberalism, and the political forces that conspire to maintain the status quo. Social Policy Whisperer Professor Paul Smyth outlines the growing global policy momentum towards 'inclusive growth' and 'shared prosperity', and examines implications for how Australia's voluntary sector might engage in an anything-but-orderly transition.

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Creating public value through design thinking in policy: The case of Kansas’ prison system

In 2008, for the first time in the history of the United States, more than 1% of the adult American adult population was incarcerated. The prison population had increased approximately sevenfold since 1970, the US imprisoned more types of criminal offenders than any other country, and it kept them in prison longer. Here Jo Luetjens reports on work with her ANZSOG colleague Prof Michael Mintrom on how design thinking drove the introduction of an investment approach in the US state of Kansas. Early results are promising, and many other states have since taken up this approach.

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Young women can budget in the short term but struggle with long-term investments

Continuing our series of posts about women's financial security, here James ArvanitakisLauren Stanley (both Western Sydney University) and Trina Jorre de St Jorre (Deakin University) report on their survey research with young women. Worryingly, over half of their participants reported feeling discouraged from learning about finance because they were women.

Our investigation into the financial literacy of young women finds they are confident in implementing budgeting and savings strategies, but lack the knowledge and confidence required to implement long-term financial strategies.

This is surprising given that financial literacy usually refers to not only an understanding of how money actually works and how to make and manage money for day-to-day affairs but also how to use this in preparation for the future.

While our results are preliminary, based on social media users and require more detailed research, our results begin to draw links between social, institutional and personal attitudes towards financial knowledge.

A survey we distributed across social media found that 91% of 175 respondents had confidence in their ability to implement savings strategies (varying from simple to complex), and 89% were confident in their ability to budget. Strategies included everything from planning for a holiday to managing credit cards. Participants also considered budgeting and saving to be the most important aspects of their finances.

However, our survey participants expressed a distinct lack of appreciation for longer-term financial goals. While 72% of respondents felt that savings were extremely relevant to them, only 38% said the same about superannuation, and they showed even less interest in other long-term investment (23%).

Knowledge and confidence in implementing long-term investment strategies were even more concerning. Only 17% of respondents said they had a “medium” knowledge of superannuation and only 1% (or two of 175 respondents) felt that they had an in-depth understanding. In contrast, 55% indicated having little or no knowledge whatsoever.

The numbers look even bleaker for responses about investments. A low 12% of survey participants had medium levels of knowledge in this area, while again only 1% felt their knowledge was in-depth.

When asked about why they lacked financial knowledge, the barrier most commonly acknowledged by participants was lack of financial information taught at school (91%). Also 55% of participants reported feeling discouraged from learning about finance because they were women. This is consistent with reports of female students being discouraged from studying subjects such as science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Why financial literacy matters for women

Women working full-time currently earn 84% of a man’s pay - at a 20 year average. The impact is this: women will earn around A$650,000 less than men across their lifetimes.

While the pay gap is considerable, the “super gap” is even greater. On average women will accumulate 46.6% less in superannuation than men, and one in three women retire with no super at all. Superannuation is the second largest asset for most Australian households, (second only to housing) and contributes significantly to economic security and savings at retirement.

Insufficient superannuation and savings at retirement have also been linked to high rates of homelessness experience by older women – a point that has been emphasised by Homelessness Australia. While there are many factors that contribute to homelessness, from drug and alcohol abuse, lack of affordable housing and domestic violence, a 2013 study by Adam Steen and David MacKenzie suggests that the little research done is this area indicates poor financial literacy is also a contributing factor.

Difference in superannuation savings between women and men are driven by interrelated factors including: the gender pay gap, more frequent participation of women in lower paid industries and jobs, disproportionate participation of women in part-time and casual positions. Also influencing this trend are the fragmented work patterns as a result of time taken off for unpaid care and pregnancy related workplace discrimination. Women also typically retire earlier and live longer than men - up to 4.4 years longer for a female born today.

In addition to these structural and social factors, our data suggests that women are ill-equipped to manage long-term financial investments.

Reduced financial literacy amongst women in comparison to men was acknowledged by the Australian government in 2008 and again by the NSW Council of Social Services in 2016. Likewise it has been acknowledged in the United States and further afield. Our data suggests little has changed.


The NDIS in New South Wales in 2017 – a year of promise but great challenges

Today's post by Jim Simpson, Senior Advocate for the NSW Council for Intellectual Disability, examines hurdles the NDIS faces in NSW in offering people with disabilities - particularly those "on the fringe" who are vulnerable and marginalised - choice and control over the services and support they need. This piece was originally published on the NSW CID blog

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