Showing posts with label Australian society. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Australian society. Show all posts

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Wealth Inequality in Australia – something to think about

In 2015-16 there were an est. 326,000 to 337,000 households out of 8.9 million households which could be classified as the richest Australian households based on income and/or wealth, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Wealth in this cohort starts at $10 million and rises, with average weekly incomes starting at a little over $5,000.

The Guardian, 18 March 2018:

The richest 20% of Australians hold about 40% of the national income but nearly 65% of the national wealth, and a majority of the wealth is held by those over 55. And our tax system is designed to help them not only keep it, but to garner more and then give it to their children (who then garner more and then give it to their children, who then ...)

Our retirement system is based around tax-free holdings of wealth – through the family home, which is exempt from capital gains tax, and tax-free income from superannuation.

With those exemptions comes revenue forgone, and the cost of paying for our ageing population is an issue that is hitting us square between the eyes.

The prime earning age for workers is between 25 and 54. Between those ages, you are no longer studying, and not really thinking about retirement. These workers not only power much of our production, but also our tax revenue.

And right now the cohort is shrinking.

Currently just 41% of the population is aged between 25 and 54. The last time it was that low was in 1987, when the first baby boomers were entering their 40s.

Back then, it wasn’t a problem because only 10.5% of the population was aged over 65. But now those 40-year-old baby boomers are retiring and those over 65 account for 15.5% of our population.

That jump is the equivalent of about 1.2 million extra people aged over 65 – people who mostly don’t work (and nor should they be expected to), or pay income tax, but whose pensions and services need to be paid for by the revenue derived from those prime-aged workers.

So what is to be done?

You could – as is the government’s current policy – increase the retirement age to 70 (this policy is still on the Department of Human Services website). That might be fine for someone like me typing away at a desk but not for many others.

You could “crack down on welfare cheats”. The problem is, despite protestations from the government and conservative media, there aren’t many of those.

On Friday, the government announced that it had saved $43.4m – $17.8m in this financial year – from “more than 1,000 wealthy welfare cheats”. That’s from a $46.1bn annual budget for Newstart, DSP and Family Tax Benefit (and the aged pension is another $45.4bn).

Or you could, as the ALP is doing, seek to find extra revenue by cutting out rorts that were designed as electoral sweeteners and favours to the Howard-Costello key demographic.

When this imputation cash rebate was introduced, not many were affected but like any good tax rort, accountants soon caught wind. Add in the 2006 decision to make income from superannuation tax free for those over 60, and suddenly you had a lot of people with a high actual income but very low or zero taxable income taking advantage of it.

Further add in this weird belief that the retirement nest egg must not be touched, and you get a lot of idiotic reporting – such as in the Herald Sun, which had the case study of a woman with an income of $160,000, who we should feel sad for because she will lose her $12,775 rebate. She could, of course, sell some of her shares, but that would actually be using superannuation for its purpose and not as a tax-free inheritance fund.

So it is a smart and needed policy, but also a dangerous one because it affects an area shrouded in confusion and thus very much susceptible to fear-mongering……

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

FAIR GO 101: It's Time To Change The Rules

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Is Australian welfare reform in 2018 a step back into a dark past?

Last year saw the completion of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse which revealed generational abuse within the Australian education and child welfare systems. 

That year also revealed the ongoing failure of the Dept. of Human Services and Centrelink to fix its faulty national debt collection scheme, which possibly led to the deaths of up to eleven welfare recipients after they were issued debt advice letters.

The first quarter of 2018 brought a scathing United Nations report on Australia's contemporary human rights record titled Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders on his mission to Australia.

Along with a report into elder abuse in Oakden Older Persons Mental Health Service in South Australia and the release of a detailed Human Rights Watch investigation of 14 prisons in Western Australia and Queensland which revealed the neglect and physical/sexual abuse of prisoners with disabilities, particularly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

The National Disability Insurance Scheme represents yet another crisis. The Productivity Commission has warned there is now no carer of last resort for patients in an emergency, care provider agencies are reportedly owed up to $300 million and disabled people are often receiving inadequate care via untrained staff or sometimes no care at all, as government disability care services are being closed in favour of the new privatised service delivery scheme.

None of these instances stand in isolation and apart from either Australian society generally or government policies more specifically.

They all represent the frequently meagre nature of community compassion and the real level of care governments have been willing to organise and fund for vulnerable citizens. In reality the ideal level of support and care for the vulnerable - that politicians spout assurances about from campaign hustings every three years - is just so much political hot air unless ordinary voters insist that it be otherwise. 

As the Turnbull Coalition Government clearly intends to push forward with the full gamut of its punitive welfare reforms perhaps now it the time to consider if we have made any great strides towards a genuinely fair and egalitarian society in the last two hundred years or if we are only dressing up old cruelties in new clothes and calling this "looking after our fellow Australians”, "an exercise in practical love"an exercise in compassion and in love".

Over the last two decades, commissions and reports on institutional care across the western world have highlighted widespread physical, sexual, emotional and economic violence within caring systems, often targeted at society’s most vulnerable people, not least children, the disabled and the elderly. These have often come at significant cost not just to the individual, but the nation. As Maxwell has shown, national apologies, that require the nation to render itself shamed by such practices, and financial redress to victims, have impacted on political reputation, trust in state organisations, and finances. As each report is released and stories of suffering fill newspapers and are quantified for official redress, both scholars and the public have asked ‘how was this allowed to happen?’ At the same time, and particularly in the last few years as many countries have turned towards conservative fiscal policies, newspapers also highlight the wrongs of current systems.

In the UK, numerous reports have uncovered abuses within welfare systems, as people are sanctioned to meet targets, as welfare staff are encouraged to withhold information about services or grants to reduce demand, and through systematic rejection of first-try benefit applications to discourage service use. Often excused as ‘isolated incidents’ on investigation, such accounts are nonetheless increasingly widespread. They are accompanied by a measurable reduction in investment in welfare and health systems, that have required a significant withdrawal in services, and have been accompanied with policies of ‘making work pay’ that have required that benefits be brought in line, not with need, but with low working incomes. The impact of these policies and associated staff behaviour have been connected to increasing child and adult povertydeclining life expectancygrowing homelessness, and the rise in foodbank use.

Importantly, public commentators on this situation have described this situation as ‘cruel’. One headline saw a benefits advisor commenting ‘I get brownie points for cruelty’; another noted ‘Welfare reform is not only cruel but chaotic’. The system depicted in Ken Loach’s I Daniel Blake (2016), described by reviewers as a Kafka-esque nightmare, a ‘humiliating and spirit-sapping holding pattern of enforced uselessness’, and a  ‘comprehensive [system of] neglect and indifference’, was confirmed by many as an accurate depiction. Whether or not this representation of the current welfare system is held to be true, such reporting raises significant questions about when and how systems designed to provide help and support move from care to abuse. A focus on ‘isolated incidents’ today can be compared to the blaming of ‘isolated perpetrators’ in historic cases of abuse, an account that is now held by scholars to ignore the important role of systems of welfare in enabling certain types of cruelty to happen…..

The capacity of welfare systems to support individuals is shaped by cultural beliefs and political ideologies around the relationship between work, human nature, and welfare. Here late-eighteenth- and early-nineteenth-century Ireland provides a productive example. Ireland in this period was marked by significant levels of poverty amongst its lower orders, particularly those that worked in agriculture. The capacity to manage that poverty on an individual level was hindered by several economic downturns and harvest failure, that pushed people to starvation. As a nation without a poor law (welfare) system until 1838, the poor relied on charity, whether from individuals or institutions for relief. In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, the ‘state’ (usually local corporations) introduced more direct welfare, sometimes in the form of relief payments but more usually access to workhouses. 
After 1838 and until the crisis of the 1847 famine, relief payments were removed and all welfare recipients had to enter the workhouse. Accompanied by a growth in institutional charitable services, the success and ‘care’ of the system could vary enormously between areas and organisations. What it did not do is significantly reduce poverty levels in the population.

Indeed, it was important that the poverty levels of welfare recipients were not reduced by the workhouse system. Like current ‘make work pay’ policies, poverty relief measures were designed so that those in the workhouse or receiving charity elsewhere did not have a significantly higher standard of living than those who provided for themselves. This principle was determined based on the wage of an independent labourer, one of the poorest but also largest categories of worker. The problem for the system was that independent labourers earned so poorly that they barely managed a subsistence diet. Their living conditions were extremely poor; many slept on hay in darkened huts with little furnishings or personal property.

Those who managed the system believed that a generous welfare system would encourage people to claim benefits and so could potentially bankrupt those paying into the system. This encouraged an active policy of ‘cruelty’. Not only were benefit recipients given meagre food and poor living conditions, but families were routinely broken up, the sexes housed in different wings and prohibited from seeing each other. Welfare recipients were often ‘badged’ or given uniforms to mark their ‘shame’, and workhouse labour was designed to be particularly physically challenging.  

It was a system underpinned by several interlocking beliefs about the Irish, the value of work and the economy. Hard work was viewed as a moral characteristic, something to be encouraged from childhood and promoted as ethical behaviour. Certain groups, notably the Irish poor but also the British lower orders and non-Europeans more generally, were viewed as lacking this moral characteristic and required it to be instilled by their social betters. Welfare systems that were not carefully designed to be ‘less eligible’ (i.e. a harsher experience than ‘normal; life for the working poor), were understood to indulge an innate laziness…..

Throughout history, welfare services have required considerable economic investment. Unsurprisingly, this has required those who run institutions of care for people also to keep a careful eye on their financial bottom line. More broadly, it has also required a monitoring of services to ensure value for money for the state and its taxpayers and to protect the interests of the service users. As has been seen recently in discussions of targets placed on staff providing welfare provision in the UK, such measuring systems can come to shape the nature and ethos of the service in damaging ways.

A relevant historical example of this is from the Australian laundry system in the late nineteenth and twentieth century. Young women were placed in youth homes and registered as delinquent for a wide range of reasons from petty criminal behaviour to perceived immorality (ranging from flirting with the opposite sex to premarital pregnancy), to having been neglected by parents. These homes, often run by religious organisations, were designed to ‘reform’ young (and occasionally older) women, preventing them from entering prostitution or other criminal pursuits. The main mechanism for ‘reform’ was through a moral discipline of work, which in many of these organisations revolved around a professional laundry service. Work was often unpaid or paid at very nominal sums, given to women on their release. The service, which catered to the general public, kept institutions financially afloat, and many became significant-sized businesses. They required women to work very long hours, in challenging conditions. Accidents, particularly burns, were not unusual. As businesses grew, other ‘reform’ efforts that ran alongside, such as education, became rarer.

The laundry became the driving focus of the institution. The women were cheap labour, and managing that machine became not just a means to an end, but shaped the logic and functioning of the care service. It is an example of how an economic imperative can come to adversely impact on care, by disrupting the purposes and functions of the service. It was also a process that significantly reduced the level of ‘care’ that such institutions provided, not only through a physical job that wore on the body but one reinforced with physical punishment, which came to include emotional and sexual abuse, and poor food and living conditions……

There are significant variations between the institutional care described here for the nineteenth century and a contemporary welfare state that encourages users, as much as possible, to remain outside ‘the system’. The capacity for ‘the state’ to control every dimension of a person’s life today is significantly reduced; conversely, the ability of those in need to fall into service ‘gaps’ as they cannot access services or negotiate bureaucratic systems, is in some ways increased. Nonetheless, there are parallels in the operation of both systems that should give contemporary policymakers pause. Abusive care does not just emerge from individual perpetrators, from the institutional model, or even a lack of policies on staff-client relationships, but also from the wider values and beliefs that shape the production of welfare systems; from the financial and emotional investments that we place in institutions; and from the corruption or occlusion of institutional targets and goals.

Ensuring that the ‘cruel’ practices reported of current systems do not become systematic issues on the scale of previous institutional abuses therefore requires not just monitoring a few rogue individuals, but a clear goal about what our welfare systems should achieve. The needs and interests of service users should be placed at their heart, coupled with a significant social, cultural and political investment in ensuring that goal is achieved. All other goals and targets for welfare service providers, especially their frontline staff, should be secondary to that and carefully designed so as not to interfere with that end. With rising rates of poverty, homelessness and illness, welfare systems look to continue to hold a central role in society for the foreseeable future. It is imperative that the abusive practices of previous ‘caring’ regimes are left firmly in the past.

Friday, 2 March 2018

Family, Domestic & Sexual Violence in Australia: "On average, 1 woman a week and 1 man a month is killed by a current or former partner"

“Family violence refers to violence between family members, typically where the perpetrator exercises power and control over another person. The most common and pervasive instances occur in intimate (current or former) partner relationships and are usually referred to as domestic violence. Sexual violence refers to behaviours of a sexual nature carried out against a person’s will. It can be perpetrated by a current or former partner, other people known to the victim, or strangers.” [Australian Institute of Health and Welfare; Family,domestic and sexual violence in Australia, 2018]

 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, media release, 28 February 2018: 

New national statistical report sheds light on family violence

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has released its first comprehensive report on family, domestic and sexual violence in Australia.
The report brings together, for the first time, information from more than 20 different major data sources to build a picture of what is known about family, domestic and sexual violence in Australia. It also highlights data gaps and offers suggestions to help fill these gaps.
The report, Family, domestic and sexual violence in Australia, 2018, covers family violence (physical violence, sexual violence and emotional abuse between family members, as well as current or former partners), domestic violence (a subcategory of family violence, involving current or former partners), and sexual violence (a range of nonconsensual sexual behaviours, perpetrated by partners, former partners, acquaintances or strangers).
‘Women are more likely to experience violence from a known person and in their home, while men are more likely to experience violence from strangers and in a public place,’ said AIHW spokesperson Louise York.
1 in 6 women (aged 15 or above) —equating to 1.6 million women—have experienced physical or sexual violence by a current or former partner, while for men it is 1 in 16—or half a million men. Three in 4 (75%) victims of domestic violence reported the perpetrator as male, while 1 in 4 (25%) reported the perpetrator as female.
Overall, 1 in 5 women (1.7 million) and 1 in 20 men (428,800) have experienced sexual violence. Most (96%) female victims of sexual violence reported the perpetrator as male, while male victims reported a more even spilt (49% female and 44% male perpetrators).
On average, 1 woman a week and 1 man a month is killed by a current or former partner.
While overall the data show that women are at greater risk, certain groups are particularly vulnerable, such as Indigenous women, young women and pregnant women.
Children who are exposed to violence experience long-lasting effects
‘Children can be victims of or witnesses to family violence—and this early exposure can heighten their chances of experiencing further violence later in life,’ Ms York said. 
Children who were physically or sexually abused before they were 15 were around 3 times as likely to experience domestic violence after the age of 15 as those children who had not experienced or witnessed violence earlier in life.
Women who, as children, witnessed domestic violence towards either their mother or father were more than twice as likely to be the victim of domestic violence themselves, compared with women who had not witnessed this violence.
Men who witnessed violence towards their mother by a partner were almost 3 times as likely to be the victim of domestic violence compared with men who had not, while men who witnessed violence towards their father were almost 4 times as likely to experience domestic violence compared with those who had not.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience higher rates of family violence
The report shows that Indigenous women were 32 times and Indigenous men were 23 times as likely to be hospitalised due to family violence as non-Indigenous women and men respectively, while Indigenous children were around 7 times as likely as non-Indigenous children to be the victims of substantiated cases of child abuse or neglect.
Two in 5 Indigenous homicide victims (41%) were killed by a current or former partner, compared with 1 in 5 non-Indigenous homicide victims (22%).
A significant toll on victims and society
The report also shows that family, domestic and sexual violence can have a profound effect on people’s ability to work, health and financial situation.
‘People who experience domestic violence are likely to need time off work as a result, and women affected by domestic violence experience significantly poorer health and mental health than other women,’ Ms York said.
For women aged 25–44, domestic violence causes more illness, disability and deaths than any other risk factor, such as smoking, alcohol use, being overweight, or being physically inactive.
Domestic violence is a leading cause of hospitalised assault, particularly among women. In 2014–15, 2,800 women and 560 men were hospitalised after being assaulted by a spouse or partner.
‘Family and domestic violence is also a leading cause of homelessness. In 2016–17, 72,000 women, 34,000 children and 9,000 men sought homelessness services due to family and domestic violence,’ Ms York said.
The financial impacts are also substantial, with violence against women and their children estimated to cost at least $22 billion in direct (healthcare, counselling, child and welfare support) and indirect (lost wages, productivity and potential earnings) costs in 2015–16.
The importance of evidence, data gaps and looking forward
AIHW CEO Barry Sandison said the report was a significant piece of work for the AIHW—and one with a real human impact. But there’s more to be done.
‘We know that family, domestic and sexual violence is a major problem in Australia, but without a comprehensive source of evidence and analysis, tackling such a complex issue will continue to be difficult,’ he said.
He noted that while the report was certainly a step in the right direction, its development had highlighted several areas where future work is needed. For example, inconsistent definitions of violence in data collections pose a challenge, as does the limited information available on specific at-risk groups (such as people with disability), childhood experiences, the characteristics of perpetrators and the service responses for both victims and perpetrators.
‘It’s important to note that while looking only at the numbers can at times appear to depersonalise the pain and suffering that sits behind the statistics, the seriousness of these issues cannot be overstated,’ Mr Sandison said.
‘This work is an excellent example of organisations working together to build the evidence on an important issue. It was achieved through financial support and collaboration from several Australian Government and state government departments.’
If the information presented raises any issues for you, these services can help:
1800RESPECT (1800 737 732,
Lifeline (13 11 14,
Kids Helpline (1800 551 800,
Men's Referral Service (1300 766 491,
Further information: Elizabeth Ingram, AIHW: Tel. 02 6249 5048, mob. 0431 871 337
                                       Elise Guy, AIHW: Tel. 02 6244 1156, mob. 0468 525 418

Friday, 9 February 2018

Falling biodiversity, degradation of productive rural land, intensification of coastal & city development, and the threat of climate change require Australia to produce blueprint for a new generation of environment laws

“The next generation of environmental laws will need to recognise explicitly the role of humanity as a trustee of the environment and its common resources, requiring both care and engagement on behalf of future generations.”  [APEEL, Blueprint for the Next Generation of Environmental Law, August 2017]

The Guardian, 6 February 2018:
Environmental lawyers and academics have called for a comprehensive rethink on how Australia's natural landscapes are protected, warning that short-term politics is infecting decision-making and suggesting that the public be given a greater say on development plans.
The Australian Panel of Experts on Environmental Law has launched a blueprint for a new generation of environment laws and the creation of independent agencies with the power and authority to ensure they are enforced. The panel of 14 senior legal figures says this is motivated by the need to systematically address ecological challenges including falling biodiversity, the degradation of productive rural land, the intensification of coastal and city development and the threat of climate change.
Murray Wilcox QC, a former federal court judge, said the blueprint was a serious attempt to improve a system that was shutting the public out of the decision-making process and failing to properly assess the impact of large-scale development proposals.
"We found the standard of management of the environment is poor because everything is made into a political issue," Wilcox said. "Nothing happens until it becomes desperate.
"We need a non-political body of significant prestige to report on what is happening and have the discretion to act."
The legal review, developed over several years and quietly released in 2017, resulted in 57 recommendations. It was suggested by the Places You Love alliance, a collection of about 40 environmental groups that was created to counter a failed bid to set up a "one-stop shop" for environmental approvals by leaving it to the states. The panel undertook the work on the understanding it would be independent and not a piece of activism.
Review report can be found here.

Friday, 2 February 2018

How we see the cost of living in Australia in 2018

Essential Report, 30 January 2018:

A substantial majority believe that, in the last 12 months, cost of living (73%) and electricity costs (75%) have all got worse. The only economic measure that has got better is company profits (42% better/12% worse).
Compared the last time this question was asked in February 2016, there has been an increase in the percentage that think electricity costs (up 13% to 75%) have got worse. However, there has also been an increase in the percentage that think company profits (+12), unemployment (+19) and the economy overall (+18) have got better.

51% (down 2% since August) believe that, in the last two years, their income has fallen behind the cost of living. 28% (up 3%) think it has stayed even with the cost of living and 14% (down 1%) think it has gone up more.

64% of those earning under $600 pw and 58% of those earning $600-1,000 pw think their income has fallen behind while 54% of those earning over $2,000 pw think it has stayed the same or gone up.
Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU)media release, 31 January 2018:

Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), 1 November 2018:

According to the ABS, over the last twelve months up to end September 2017 the Living Cost Index* rose:

2.0% for Pensioner and Beneficiary Households
2.1% for Other Government Transfer Recipient Households
1.7% for Age Pensioner Households
1.6% for Self-Funded Retiree Households
1.5% for Employee Households 

One of the principal drivers to the rise in costs for these groups has been the rise in housing costs due to the rise in wholesale electricity costs.

Sunday, 28 January 2018

In the first 18 days of 2018 two women have died violently allegedly at the hands of their partners in Australia

Destroy the Joint, Counting Dead Women, 18 January 2018:

1 January 03: Margaret Indich (38) died in hospital of injuries sustained at her home in Cloverdale. Her unnamed partner (40) attempted to deny paramedics access to treat her, and left the scene before police arrived. He was arrested hours later, and has been charged with murder. No further details are available at present. WA

2 January 12: British backpacker Amelia Blake (22) died of extensive injuries, including head injuries, in a suspected murder suicide. Her body and that of her partner Brazil Gurung (33) were found on Friday, January 12 at an apartment in Newtown. Police have indicated that they are treating the deaths as murder-suicide, but have not released details as they await post mortem findings. Inquiries continue NSW

These sad incidents began the domestic violence death cycle for 2018.

Last year the NSW Coroner's NSW Domestic Violence Death Review Team produced a report which looked at NSW domestic violence homicides between 2000-2014.

This report reveals that over this fourteen year period females were dying as a result of domestic violence at a greater rate than males. Crudely averaged out there were an est.11 female deaths a year as a result of intimate partner domestic violence compared to est. 3 male deaths a year. The majority of male deaths were those of the primary domestic violence abuser in the relationship.

Here are some excerpts from that report.

In the data reporting period 1 July 2000 to 30 June 2014 there were 204 cases where a person was killed by a current or former intimate partner in a context of domestic violence (162 females and 42 males).

Key data findings:

• 79% of intimate partner homicide victims were women.
• 98% of women killed by an intimate partner had been the primary domestic violence victim in the relationship.
• 37% of women in this dataset were killed by a former intimate partner, and almost two thirds of these women had ended the intimate relationship with the domestic violence abuser within three months of being killed.
• Women killed by an intimate partner were aged between 15 and 80 years of age.
• 12% of women killed by an intimate partner identified as Aboriginal.
• 89% of men killed by a female intimate partner had been the primary domestic violence abuser in the relationship. All 7 men killed by a male intimate partner had been the primary domestic violence victim in the relationship.
• 31% of men killed by an intimate partner identified as Aboriginal.
• 24% of men who killed an intimate partner suicided following the murder.
• Males who killed an intimate partner were aged between 17 and 87 years of age.
• 26% of females who killed an intimate partner were acquitted at trial…..
In the data reporting period there were 109 cases where a person was killed by a relative/kin in a context of domestic violence (44 adults and 65 children under the age of 18 years).

Between 2000-2014 there were also 65 child domestic violence homicide victims. Their age range was between 4 weeks and 14 years of age, with 55 per cent being less than 4 years old.

Key data findings: child homicide victims

• Chid homicide victims in this dataset were aged between 4 weeks and 14 years of age, with 55% of children being aged less than 4 years of age.
• 42% of children were killed by their biological father acting alone and 26% were killed by their biological mother acting alone.
• 18% of children were killed by a male nonbiological parent acting alone and 3% were killed by a female non-biological parent acting alone.
• 20% of child homicide victims in this dataset identified as Aboriginal.
• 31% of male homicide perpetrators in this dataset suicided after killing a child/ren compared to 10% of female homicide perpetrators

In the NSW Police Force Region - Northern (which covers police local area commands from Brisbane Waters up to the NSW-Qld border) there were 46 adult intimate partner domestic violence homicide victims and 18 child domestic violence homicide victims between 2000-2014.

Friday, 26 January 2018

It's Australia Day and......

the truth is that few Australians - who will either quietly or with loud jingoism celebrate today - know the day’s real history or meaning.

It also seems that only a minority of the population are likely to object if the federal and state governments decide to change the date.

The Sydney Morning Herald, 18 January 2018:

A majority of voters would not mind if Australia Day was shifted to a different date and most don't know why it's currently held on January 26.

New polling also reveals that only about a third of Australians – 37 per cent – realise the date is offensive to many Indigenous people because it represents the beginning of the dispossession and violence of British colonisation.

As the political and community debate about the "change the date" movement continues to intensify, the Research Now survey of 1417 people suggests nearly all Australians – 84 per cent – think it is important the country has a national day of celebration.

But 56 per cent say they don't mind when the day occurs, challenging the notion that Australians see January 26 as sacred or untouchable.

The polling also reveals 77 per cent of people believe – incorrectly – that the celebration has always occurred on January 26, the date the First Fleet planted the flag in NSW in 1788.

The date was in fact not adopted by all states until 1935, and has only been celebrated in its current form since 1994.

The polling commissioned by the progressive Australia Institute think tank was conducted among a nationally representative sample in December.

"This polling shows that while Australia Day is important to most Australians, most people are laid back about the date we celebrate on," said deputy director Ebony Bennett.

Given 11 multiple choice options, 38 per cent correctly identified the event January 26 marks. And just under half knew it had anything to do with the First Fleet at all.

Others believed it marked the day Captain Cook first sighted Australia, the day the constitution was signed or the day Australia became independent.

Four per cent of people linked the date to events that have not actually happened, including becoming a republic or signing a treaty with Aboriginal Australia.

Asked to nominate what date would be the best to celebrate Australia Day, 70 per cent preferred a date not associated with the First Fleet. And fewer than a quarter (23 per cent) selected the landing in Sydney Cove as the best of a range of options.

Only 37 per cent of people agreed the current date was offensive to Indigenous people, even though many Indigenous leaders have long been calling for change. Nearly half of people – 46 per cent – disagreed the date was problematic.

Asked if Australia Day should not be on a day that is hurtful to Aboriginal people, 49 per cent agreed and 36 per cent disagreed…..

"Australia Day is a day on which the overwhelming majority of Australians – all but a handful – are proud of Australia and its achievements," he told 2GB radio. [my yellow highlighting]

Australian Minister for Indigenous Affairs and National Party Senator for Northern Territory, Nigel Scullion, has told journalists that since he became minister in September 2013 not one indigenous person has ever expressed to him that they want the date changed.

Senator Scullion can be contacted by 'phone from 1 February 2018 during office hours at:

(08) 8948 3555
(08) 8948 3555
(02) 6277 7780

Political Meme on Australia Day 2018

Alternate Bayeux Tapestry via @no_filter_Yamba

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

This highlighted health statistic would come as no surprise to people living in rural and regional Australia

The Sydney Moring Herald, 18 January 2018:

NSW has been ranked the worst for healthcare affordability among older patients in the latest survey that pits Australia's most populous state against international health systems.

The results released on Thursday showed a larger proportion of NSW patients 65 and older struggled with their medical costs than their counterparts in Australia overall and 10 other OECD countries.

NSW fared worst when it came to the percentage of respondent who said they had problems paying their medical bills (15 per cent), compared to just 1 per cent in Sweden and 10 per cent in the US, found the survey of 24,000 people including 1175 in NSW.

More than one in five (22 per cent) reported spending $1000 or more in out-of-pocket healthcare costs, the third largest proportion after Switzerland (53 per cent) and the US (37 per cent), and well behind the top performer France (3 per cent), according to the 2017 Commonwealth Fund International Health survey findings released by the Bureau of Health Information (BHI)…..

Over 20 per cent of older people in NSW said they had skipped a dentist visit when they needed it due to the cost, tying with the US for the poorest result after Australia (23 per cent).

A total of 14 per cent of NSW respondents said they had skipped prescriptions, consultations or treatments due to cost in the previous year, the second lowest score after the US.

One in four NSW respondents said they found it "very difficult" to access medical care after hours without going to a hospital emergency department, trailing the US and seven other countries. [my yellow highlighting]

Saturday, 20 January 2018

Quote of the Week 20 Jan 18

“Like it or not, Aboriginal Australians are the most disadvantaged, ostracised, criticised and victimised group in society. We experience racism pretty much on a daily basis. I speak from experience. This is Aboriginal life.” [Tauto Sansbury writing in The Advertiser, 31 December 2017]