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 mental health impacts of sexualisation, family violence and assault

The Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System provides an opportunity to consider the social and economic factors that contribute to poor mental health using a gender lens. Today’s analysis, by Policy Whisperer Susan Maury (@SusanMaury) and Sarah Squire (@SquireSarah) of Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand (@GoodAdvocacy), provides an overview of how rigid gender stereotyping creates a cascade effect of experiences that compromise women’s and girls’ mental health. This is the fourth in a 4-part series based on Good Shepherd’s submission; Part 1 provides an overview of the gendered nature of mental health, Part 2 discusses the related issue of economic inequality, and Part 3 examines the influence of financial hardship.

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Invisible women? Migrant workers need feminist solidarity

Domestic workers are one of the world's most invisible work forces. Their labour is performed beyond the reach of regulators, in private households, including those with significant power and influence— diplomatic and consular officials. Recent research by The Salvation Army found that domestic servitude is occurring in Australia at higher rates than official figures suggest and disproportionately affects women. In today’s post, Heather Moore (@alittlewave) of Monash University (@TSResearchGroup @MigrationMonash) shares findings of her research: Service or Servitude? A Study of Trafficking for Domestic Servitude in Australia. Her findings indicate there is a largely unrecognised feminised workforce that many Australians utilise. Too often migrant domestic workers do not enjoy equal access to protection under the law as other Australian workers do, and are are largely excluded from the mainstream policy discourse on women and rights at work.

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From “mothers having babies” to “people raising families”: Policy and cultural change at Baker McKenzie for inclusive parenting leave

There are many reasons to support fathers taking leave at the birth of a child, including indications that taking time off to be with a newborn results in increased parental engagement across childhood – an area that continues to have a strong gender imbalance in Australia – and supporting a host of other positive outcomes, including maternal wellbeing and narrowing the gender pay gap.

Yet few fathers are encouraged to or, in many cases, are unable to take parental leave at the time of birth, and often unsupportive policy creates the first barrier. In today’s analysis, Kirsty White of law firm Baker McKenzie’s Diversity and Inclusion team shares how the organisation has made history by being the first law firm in Australia to provide gender-equal parental leave, and describes some of the challenges and benefits.

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“You need to know what to do if you feel uncomfortable”: Why school-based sex education is important for all ages

While Victoria’s Respectful Relationships curriculum has had its critics, many believe primary prevention methods are the best way to move the dial on community attitudes to gender violence. In today’s policy analysis piece, Katrina Marson (@katrinaellen72) reviews the research in this area and reports on best practice with primary school-aged children in the U.K.

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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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The bidirectional relationship between financial hardship and women’s mental health

The Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System provides an opportunity to consider the social and economic factors that contribute to poor mental health using a gender lens. This piece by Sarah Squire (@SquireSarah) and Policy Whisperer Susan Maury (@SusanMaury) of Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand (@GoodAdvocacy) explores how financial hardship and stress contribute to poor mental health, drawing on case studies and reflections from practitioners in Good Shepherd services. This is the third in a 4-part series based on Good Shepherd’s submission; Part 1 provides an overview of the gendered nature of mental health, while Part 2 discusses the related issue of economic inequality.

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New empirical research reveals the distinctive experiences of women in bankruptcy

Recent research published by Melbourne Law School offers new insight into the contrasting circumstances of men and women in bankruptcy. In it,  Lucinda O’Brien, Professor Ian Ramsay and Associate Professor Paul Ali, each from Melbourne Law School find that public data does not fully reflect the differences between men and women in the bankruptcy system, or the extent to which women’s bankruptcies are caused by gender-specific factors.

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What is wrong with Work for the Dole – reciprocity fail

Continuing her series of posts examining Australia's employment services system, Dr Simone Casey discusses the shortcomings of Work for the Dole both as a mutual obligation activity and as a pathway to work. Her previous posts explore issues related to welfare conditionality; 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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Power to Persuade
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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Racial and Gender Justice for Aboriginal Women in Prison

Last week was NAIDOC week - a week set aside for non-Indigenous Australians to “increase [their]awareness… of the status and treatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.” Today’s post, by Zuleyka Zevallos (@othersociology) shares her listening and learning to the unjust experiences of Indigenous women in the criminal justice system. This piece first appeared at Other Sociologist.

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Adopting large-scale personalisation in the NDIS

The rollout of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) has be challenging, with the scheme experiencing delays in budget allocation as well as the design and review of individual plans. But how can this be avoided for a service that, to be fit-for-purpose, requires a significant amount of client engagement and service personalisation?

In this article from The Mandarin, BIS Oxford Economics’s Flavio Souza explains why he believes adopting innovative approaches to client segmentation may be the answer.

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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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Looking after loved ones with mental illness puts carers at risk themselves. They need more support

The Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System - the first of its kind in Australia - is looking into ‘[accelerating] improvements in access to mental health services, service navigation and models of care.’ One element of the mental health care system, which is often overlooked, is help for informal carers that support those who have mental illness.

In this article originally published in The Conversation, the University of Newcastle’s Jaelea Skehan and Sally Fitzpatrick explain the emotional labour involved in caring, the case for preventing their psychological distress, and the policy setting that government needs to enhance carers’ wellbeing and prevent the onset of mental health issues of their own.

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