Posts in Issues
The 2019 Power to Persuade symposium: examining systems thinking and big data in social policy

Power to Persuade is hosting a one-day symposium in Melbourne on Thursday 10 October 2019. Featuring a keynote address by Julian Corner, CEO of Lankelly Chase in the UK, and three panels of experts drawn from universties, government and the not-for-profit sector, the symposium will examine the evolving use and understanding of evidence in social policy. Our co-director Dr Sue Olney from the Public Service Researach Group at UNSW Canberra sets the scene and invites you to join the discussion.

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Eligible for what? ParentsNext exemptions and the troubling tale of outsourced social security decision-making

Continuing her series of original posts on Australia's employment services system, Dr Simone Casey (@SimoneCasey) explores the implications of outsourced decision-making in social security through the lens of the ParentsNext program. Dr Casey is an affiliate of the RMIT Future Social Services Institute (@FutureSocialAU).

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Hope for the Honey Bee?

You may have noticed at your local common a place for wild flowers, attracting a mobile constellation of bees, butterflies, and a host of minibeasts. Honey bees mean different things to each of us: an excuse to reminisce on childhood crayoning, the producer of that delicious syrup we all enjoy as honey, or a symbol of order and harmony in nature. However, they also serve a critical environmental role as a major fruit and vegetable pollinator. In these days of economic and political uncertainty this may not be foremost in policy makers minds, however, bees are vital for our survival and are a living indicator of the health of our environment. In this post, Gino Abdul-Jabbar suggests with honey bees under threat that we need to direct our individual attention and garner collective policy support for the plight of the humble honey bee.

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Changing the global approach to youth mental health

In the past, the greatest health challenge for young people was to survive childhood. Thankfully, in most of the world this is no longer the case. However, the big health issue now for young people is mental health. Consulting with experts and stakeholders around the world, the Global Youth Mental Health Framework project will provide guidance for funders about the costs of investing, and the costs of not investing, in youth mental health. It also aims to produce a youth mental health care framework that is responsive to local needs, and a toolkit to help communities all over the world advocate for youth mental health services. On International Youth Day, Eóin Killackey outlined a new undertaking to make youth mental health a global priority.

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How can retailers improve access and outcomes for consumers with cognitive disabilities?

In the wake of reports of service providers' poor conduct towards consumers with cognitive disabilities emerging from the Royal Commission into Banking, the Energy and Water Ombudsman of Victoria and the Essential Services Commission, Dr Yvette Maker and Professor Jeannie Paterson from the University of Melbourne offer two sets of resources here to promote a ‘facilitative’ approach to contracting and consumer transactions for people who have difficulties (or perceived difficulties) with learning, concentrating on, processing, remembering, or communicating information, and/or with decision-making.This piece was originally published by the Consumer Policy Research Centre.

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Cultural Change and individual impact: towards respectful relationships on Australian campuses

Sue Webeck, manager of The Australian National University’s (ANU) newly set-up Respectful Relationships Unit, describes the university’s approach in responding to the issues raised in the Human Right’s Commission’s ‘Change the Course Report: National Report on Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment at Australian Universities’ in 2017, and the challenges involved in creating systemic change while responding to the ongoing needs of survivors.  

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Welfare 'activation' policies are counterproductive

Continuing her series of original posts on Australia's employment services system, Simone Casey (@SimoneCasey) of the RMIT Future Social Services Institute (@FutureSocialAU) discusses harm caused by the Targeted Compliance Framework (TCF) for income support on people in living in precarious financial situations. Her previous posts explore issues related to welfare conditionalityParentsNextmutual obligation; 'work first' activation of jobseekers; the growing presence of automation in Australia's welfare system and Work for the Dole.

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The problem with women’s prisons – and why they do more harm than good

In this article originally appearing in the UK edition of The Conversation, Gillian McNaull examines the increasing numbers of women in UK prisons, not for crimes of violence but typically for crimes of survival. Her research mirrors the Australian experience where many women, particularly Aboriginal women, are imprisoned for unpaid fines necessitating the important work, for example, of Sisters Inside founders Debbie Kilroy and 2019 Miles Franklin Literary Award winner, Melissa Lucashenko.

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Abortion laws in NSW: Beyond Decriminalisation

As the NSW parliament prepares for the introduction of a bill to decriminalise abortion in that State, Ashlee Gore writes that many believe abortion is already legal and freely available in NSW, and that while decriminalisation will be important for women’s choice and autonomy, there will remain many other medical, social and interpersonal barriers that restrict the exercise of this autonomy after the law has changed.

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What do Aboriginal Australians want from their aged care system? Community connection is number one

Older Aboriginal Australians are considered one of the most vulnerable populations in the country as they are at greater risks for multiple chronic diseases while being less able to access culturally appropriate care.

In this post from The Conversation, Neuroscience Research Australia’s Tony Broe believes that an effective Indigenous aged care model must facilitate greater family and community involvement to improve the health outcomes of older Aboriginal Australians.

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Why Indigenous values matter for all public servants and all communities

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples occupy a unique position as the first sovereign peoples of Australia. And while governments have been striving to improve their relationships with as well as their abilities to represent and provide services to Indigenous Australians, there is still a long way to go.

In this post, the Australia and New Zealand School of Government’s (ANZSOG) Aurora Milroy discusses why Indigenous values and culture should be embedded in the Australian Public Service (APS), and outlines practical solutions for helping the Commonwealth begin to reset its relationship with Indigenous peoples.

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Report finds every $1 Australia spends on preschool will return $2, but this won’t just magically happen

Is Australia getting good return on investment in early childhood education? A report conducted by PwC for the Front Project finds that Australia is getting $2 back for every $1 spent on preschool.

While this statistic is important, Jen Jackson of Victorian University’s Mitchell Institute argues that we need to examine and invest in the complex chain of events that in order for the country to reap the two-for-one return.

This article was originally published in The Conversation.

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New wave conditionality and social supervision

In today's post, Dr Simone Casey (@simonecasey) discusses the ethics and efficacy of recent developments in welfare conditionality in Australia. This continues her series of posts examining topical issues in Australia's employment services system - ParentsNext; mutual obligation; 'work first' activation of jobseekers; and the growing presence of automation in Australia's welfare system. Dr Casey is an Associate of the RMIT Future Social Services Institute.

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From locked up to linked up: Developing the recovery capital assets of justice-involved children and young people

Too many of our kids are incarcerated and living away from their families and their ‘country’ in youth detention facilities. It is urgent and critical to commit to transforming the way Australian youth justice service is undertaken. Sharynne Hamilton, Ngunnawal woman and PhD scholar at the University of Western Australia, explains the potential of ‘Justice Capital’ to lead the way.

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What should we do about sexual violence at music festivals?

Sexual harassment and assault at music festivals has received very little scholarly attention, but Dr Bianca Fileborn (@snappyalligator; University of Melbourne) and Dr Phillip Wadds (@phillipwadds; UNSW) are rectifying this knowledge gap. Here they report on their recent research project and suggest some ways that festival organisers and the music industry can make festivals safer spaces.

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Can Animal Assisted Therapies Help to Tackle Issues of Wellbeing and Mental Health?

The role of animals in supporting mental health and emotional wellbeing is probably not a modern phenomenon. Myers (1998) draws our attention to the book ‘De Canibus Britannicus’, written in the sixteenth century by Dr Cairs in which he advocated the therapeutic use of dogs and recommended that a person afflicted by illness should carry a small dog on their bosom to soak up the disease. In 1699 John Locke prescribed giving children small animals, including dogs, birds or even squirrels, to look after, in order to foster the development of ‘tender feelings and responsibility for others’ (Garforth, 1964, p.154).  The assumption was that this would help children to control their innately ‘beast like’ characteristics (Myers, 1998). In the first of her two guest posts this week on Power to Persuade, Dr Alison Broad the Director of Primary Initial Teacher Education examines the question – can animal assisted therapies help to tackle the issues of wellbeing and mental health?

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