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

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. https://goo.gl/daodJA 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 https://goo.gl/1d4phf 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]

Friday, 12 January 2018

Australian Politics 2018: and you foolishly thought things might get better this year


Well the democracy canary in the political coal mine fell senseless to the bottom of its cage this month when the Turnbull Government admitted that a high level of secrecy would surround its extra-parliamentary review of religious freedom in Australia.

The Sydney Morning Herald, 3 December 2017:

Public submissions to the Turnbull government's review of religious freedom in Australia will be kept secret, in a marked departure from normal processes, according to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's department.

The department, which has control of the inquiry, said it would not publish the submissions, which is in stark contrast to ordinary parliamentary inquiries, in which most submissions are automatically released.

"Submissions to the Expert Panel will not be published online," a department spokesman said in an emailed statement. "However, where individuals provide consent, submission extracts may be included in public materials."

Late on Tuesday, however, Mr Turnbull's media team sought to intervene by suggesting inquiry chairman Philip Ruddock would decide if submissions were published. The PM's office then instructed his own department to issue a new statement to that effect.

An hour later, the department said decisions on releasing submissions would rest on "whether individuals have provided consent", but that appears impossible, because the online consent form assures people their submission "will not be published in its entirety".

It is expected the high-profile inquiry - prompted by fears about the impact of same-sex marriage on religious practice - will attract submissions from Australia's biggest churches, including the Catholic and Anglican archdioceses of Sydney and Melbourne. It presents an opportunity for religious organisations and other advocates to spell out the exact changes to the law they believe are necessary.

Mr Ruddock said when contacted on Tuesday that the panel had not discussed the publication of submissions and ultimately it was a matter for the PM's department…..

The expert panel - which also includes Australian Human Rights Commission president Rosalind Croucher, Catholic priest Frank Brennan and retired judge Annabelle Bennett - is expected to meet for the first time next Wednesday. 

However, the negative response in mainstream and social media saw the democracy canary revived and placed on life support as the secrecy provisions in the online Consent form have been changed and now only apply to all those submissions received to date.

"The Expert Panel has not yet determined a final approach to publication of submissions. Submissions already provided will not be published without the agreement of the author" 

Which given that the majority of submissions would have been received by now means that it is highly unlikely that submissions made on behalf of religious institutions will ever be published by the Expert Panel.

NOTE

The submission period for the Religious Freedom Review commenced in December 2017 and ends on 31 January 2018 with the Expert Panel to deliver its findings by 31 March 2018.

Monday, 8 January 2018

So where does Australia stand on climate change at the start of 2018?


On 21 December 2017 IPSOS Social Research Institute released its 2017 Climate Change Report which provides the findings the company’s annual climate change research.

It would appear that the Australian general public is not walking away from a belief that climate change is real, that it is affecting our lives and action on the part of government is required.

IPSOS, Climate Change Report 2017, excerpts:

Priorities of environmental action

Once again, renewable energy is the top environmental issue Australians would act on if they were in charge of decision-making. More than half (56%) identify renewable energy as an issue they would choose to address. The majority of Australians have identified renewable energy as an issue for action every year since surveying began in 2007.

Compared with 2016, there has been no movement in the top 6 issues of importance. Water and river Heath (49%) came in at number two. This is its highest rating for action since 2012 (when it was 52).

In third place in 2017 is illegal waste dumping (46%), followed by deforestation (45%), sustainability and climate change (both 43%).

In 2016 we noted that climate change had hit its highest rating since 2008 (when 47% believed it to be a top priority for action), and it retains that sixth place with more than two in five Australians once again identifying it as an issue for action.

Australians in regional areas are more likely to identify renewable energy as an issue for action compared with their counterparts in capital cities (62% ‘rest of Australia’ vs. 53% capital city residents). The same pattern is observed for water and river health (58% vs. 44%) and deforestation (51% vs. 42%).


The role of human activity in climate change

The past few years have seen a growing consensus in the political sphere that climate change is caused by human-driven processes. In the face of this change, Australians’ views of the causes of climate change have moved little in the past decade. This stasis has continued in 2017.

Only 3% of Australians think there is no such thing as climate change. Around one-in-ten (12%) believe climate change is caused entirely or mostly by natural processes. Two-in-five (42%) believe that human activity is mainly or entirely responsible for climate change and 38% believe that climate change is caused partly by humans and partly by natural processes.

Half of Australians aged under 50 years of age believe that climate change is mostly or entirely caused by human activity (50%) compared with one-third of those aged 50 and above (31%).

Voting intention, like age, is linked to public opinion on the role of human activity in climate change. Liberal voters and One Nation voters are less likely to think that climate change was mostly or entirely caused by human activity (34% and 25% respectively). Whereas, Labor voters and Greens voters are more likely to identify human activity as mostly or entirely causing climate change (50% and 69% respectively). There are no differences by geography, but those with a university degree are also more likely to say human activities are entirely or mainly responsible (51%).....

Climate change is a pressing issue with serious consequences

Most Australians think that climate change is already underway (62% either strongly or somewhat agree). More than half (54%) agree that it poses a serious threat to our way of life over the next 25 years. This increases to 64% agreement when considering the next 100 years…….

Who’s responsible for action on climate change, and who’s doing a good job?

….In 2017, Australians consider the international community to be performing best of the parties tested. More than one in five (22%) feel that the performance of the international community is very or fairly good (compared with 19% in 2016).

This means the international community overtakes State Governments in relation to perceived performance on climate change. In 2016, 20% said State Governments. This year, State Governments and the Federal Government sit in second place and 18% rated both these levels of government as very or fairly good. As in 2016, business and industry was considered the lowest performer (15% rated their performance as good).

Although business and industry is regarded as being the poorest performer of the groups tested, combined with such a low expectation of leading action on climate change, arguably this poor perception of performance is not as relevant as it is for the Federal Government (which carries the greatest weight of responsibility).

Liberal voters are far more complimentary about the current Federal Government’s performance on action on climate change (31% gave a good rating compared with 16% of Labor voters and 10% of Greens voters).

Who should be mainly responsible for action on climate change?

Participants were asked to rate the performance of the Federal Government, the international community, State Governments and business. It is apparent that Australians do not believe that any of these parties are performing particularly well on climate action.

Monday, 18 December 2017

Five years on and the Royal Commission into Insitutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse formally closes


Then Australian Labour Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced her intention to call a royal commission into child sexual abuse on 12 November 2012.

By 11 January 2013 six commissioners had been appointed and on 3 April 2013 the first of fifty-seven public hearings was underway.

These public hearings conducted 57 case studies, 30 of which examined responses to child sexual abuse in religious institutions.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse formally closed on 15 December 2017 when it presented its final report to the Governor-General.

By that time the Royal Commission had heard evidence from nearly 8,000 historic abuse survivors with 6,875 survivors being heard in private sessions, of whom 4,029 (58.6 per cent) spoke about child sexual abuse in religious institutions. 

There were more allegations of child sexual abuse in relation to the Catholic Church than any other religious organisation, followed by the Anglican Church, The Salvation Army and others.  

ABC News created this graph on 15 December 2017:



During the course of its investigation the Royal Commission referred 2,575 matters to authorities, including to police.

The full 17 volume Final Report can be read here.

It is worth noting that the Turnbull Government has introduced a bill allowing child sexual abuse survivors who experienced abuse in government or participating non-government institutions to claim up to $150,000 compensation. 

The Commonwealth Redress Scheme for Survivors of Institutional Child Sexual Abuse commences on 1 July 2018 and operates for ten years. However it intends to deny compensation to any survivors who have have themselves been convicted of sex offences, or sentenced to prison terms of five years or more for crimes such as serious drug, homicide or fraud offences. A measure likely to exclude thousands of child abuse survivors - if the fact that 10.4% of survivors were in prison at the time they were heard in Royal Commission private session is any guide.

It is further noted that elements within the Catholic Church in Australia intend to resist certain recommendation in the Royal Commission's final report - particularly Recommendation 7.4 relating to reporting of child sexual abuse admissions/allegations heard during confession.

Three days after the Royal Commission's final report was published the Diocese of Ballarat gave up the pretence of empathy it donned for the duration of the inquiry and cut hundreds of brightly coloured ribbons off the fence at St Patrick's Cathedral placed there by abuse victims, their friends, families and supporters.

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

"What alternate universe does the Australian Treasurer inhabit?


According to AMP chief economist Shane Oliver “consumer spending is being dragged down by low wages growth, slowing wealth accumulation, poor sentiment, high debt levels and rising energy costs."

In the 2017 September quarter households were spending less on clothing, footware, health, furnishings, household equipment, entertainment, dining out and alcohol - as the pressure on disposable income bites.

Yet this is the Australian Treasurer in December 2017……………
The Sydney Morning Herald, 6 December 2017

Sunday, 10 December 2017

A Tweet To Remind Us All


Thursday, 7 December 2017

Marriage Equality finally arrives in Australia



Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Will all working women in Australia ever achieve equal pay?


Most Australians appear to understand that gender-based discrimination against women is a fact of life females of all ages have to cope with at some point in their lives - often at multiple points in their lives.

This poll gives a clear indication of the level of community awareness of this issue.

Essential Report, Sexism and Discrimination Against Women, 5 December 2017:


A majority of respondents think there is a lot or some sexism in the media (64%), politics (60%), advertising (60%), workplaces (57%) and sport (56%).

Women were more likely than men to think there is a lot or some sexism in all areas – but especially in workplaces (women 67%, men 46%) and politics (70%/49%).

There has been some small changes in these figures since this question was asked in January last year – sexism in workplaces has dropped 4%, in the media up 6%, in sport down 4% and in schools up 8%. However, there has been more significant change in the differences between men and women on some issues. On sexism in the workplace the gap between perceptions of men and women has increased from 12% to 21%.

Despite society knowing that gender-based discrimination against women exists, institutions put in place by government to allegedly mitigate inequality and ensure fairness still manage to entrench such discrimination.

The shorter version of the observations and conclusions set out below is that if you are a female worker on minimum wage working in an industry sector which employs significantly more women than men, then you still cannot reliably look to either the private sector or the Liberal-Nationals version of the Fair Work Commission for the equal pay first promised by the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission in 1972.


Excerpt from Barbara Broadway & Richard Wilkinson, Melbourne University (October 2017), Probing the effects of the Australian system of minimum wages on the gender wage gap, pp.3-4:

In Australia, minimum wages are binding for a large part of the labour market: in 2014, 24% of all employees were paid the applicable minimum wage. Based on the above studies, one would therefore expect minimum wages in Australia to reduce the gender wage gap substantially. However, somewhat unusually, the Australian labour market contains many different minimum wages arising from industry and occupation-based ‘awards’ made by an industrial court. These awards specify legally binding minimum rates of pay, which vary considerably across occupations and industries, applying not only to the low-pay sector of the labour market, but to occupations of all levels, including high-skilled, high-paid jobs such as airline pilots, university professors and medical practitioners.1 The effects of these many minimums will therefore depend, in quite complex ways, on how men and women are distributed across occupations and industries and how minimums are distributed across occupations and industries.

The industrial court does not set different wages for men and women. However, it could, in principle, produce a gender wage gap by setting lower minimum wages in occupations and industries in which women are relatively more concentrated. A gender wage gap caused by legally set minimum wages could therefore be greater than or less than the gender wage gap created by market wages.

Indeed, the raw median gender wage gap among full-time employees in Australia is, at 18%, in the middle range of all OECD countries (Figure 1)2, providing a hint that the minimum wage system does not reduce the gender wage gap as much as might be expected given the high proportion of employees that are paid the applicable minimum wage. This is reinforced by the finding that the raw mean gender wage gap among full-time employees is approximately 20% (and indeed the gap has persisted at this level since the early 1990s (ABS 2016), despite relative growth in female educational attainment and work experience)…….

We therefore doubt that the observed job-femaleness penalty is actually derived from compensating differentials determined by the Fair Work Commission. Rather, what seems more likely is that the award-wage decisions have been influenced by observed “typical” wages in industries and occupations, and male-dominated fields have benefited from a long history of strong unionisation that led to higher average wages.

In any case, irrespective of whether non-skill-related differences in award wages are justified by other job characteristics, what is clear is that the gender wage gap among minimum-wage employees is greater than it would be were award wages neutral with respect to the gender composition of jobs.

Indeed, the gender wage gap within the award system would probably be negative if minimum wages depended only on the skill requirements of jobs, since the observed human capital of female minimum-wage employees is on average greater than the observed human capital of male minimum-wage employees…..

Comparing mean wages of award-reliant men and women shows there is indeed a gender pay gap among award-reliant employees, although it is considerably smaller than among non-award-reliant employees. The mean wage is $20.74 for men and $18.63 for women, corresponding to a mean gender pay gap of approximately 10%, compared to 19% among non-award employees.

1 These minimum wages are, however, less likely to be binding in high-paid occupations, where greater proportions of employees receive a salary that is above the applicable award rate.
2 Note that the OECD estimates are not entirely comparable across all countries because of differences in the way the median gender gap is calculated. For example, the wages variable may be measured over an hourly, weekly, monthly or annual time-frame. Figure 1 nonetheless provides reasonable indicative information on where Australia fits relative to other OECD countries.

Friday, 1 December 2017

Australians with lower incomes are dying sooner from potentially preventable diseases than their wealthier counterparts


The Conversation, 28 November 2017:

Australians with lower incomes are dying sooner from potentially preventable diseases than their wealthier counterparts, according to our new report.

Australia’s Health Tracker by Socioeconomic Status, released today, tracks health risk factors, disease and premature death by socioeconomic status. It shows that over the past four years, 49,227 more people on lower incomes have died from chronic diseases – such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer – before the age of 75 than those on higher incomes.

A steady job or being engaged in the community is important to good health. Australia’s unemployment rate is low, but this hides low workforce participation, and a serious problem with underemployment. Casual workers are often not getting enough hours, and more and more Australians are employed on short-term contracts.

There’s a vicious feedback loop – if your health is struggling, it’s harder to build your wealth. If you’re unable to work as much as you want, you can’t build your wealth, so it’s much tougher to improve your health.

Our team tracked health risk factors, disease and premature death by socioeconomic status, which measures people’s access to material and social resources as well as their ability to participate in society. We’ve measured in quintiles – with one fifth of the population in each quintile.

We developed health targets and indicators based on the World Health Organisation’s 2025 targets to improve health around the globe.

The good news is that for many of the indicators, the most advantaged in the community have already reached the targets.

The bad news is that poor health is not just an issue affecting the most vulnerable in our community, it significantly affects the second-lowest quintile as well. Almost ten million Australians with low incomes have much greater risks of developing preventable chronic diseases, and of dying from these earlier than other Australians.


Read the rest of the article here.

Monday, 20 November 2017

Volunteering levels in Australia and on the NSW North Coast


There has been some talk in local media about volunteering levels, with one bright spark suggesting that volunteering be made mandatory.

But are volunteering levels in Australia in such dire straits?

If one looks at available statistics it appears that Australia is fairly well served by people willing to give their time and effort to local communities.

The same can be said for the NSW Mid & Far North Coasts.

Here is a breakdown of volunteering levels.

Volunteering Australia, 27 June 2017:

The 2016 Census revealed that Australia’s population is 23.4 million people. Of this:

* 3.6 million people or 19.0% of the population aged 15 years and over are engaged in voluntary work through an organisation or group.
  This is a 1.2% increase from the 2011 Census  results, where 17.8% of people responded they were engaged in voluntary work.
* The rates of volunteering are highest among males aged 45-54 years at 302,612 people.
* The rates of volunteering are highest among women aged 35-44 at 399,889 people.
* Overall, the rates of volunteering are highest in the 45-54 year age group at 679,602 people.

Prior to release of 2016 Census results the Australian Government released, Giving Australia 2016,  Individuals: Volunteering Overview:

An estimated 43.7% of adult Australians volunteered a total of 932 million hours in the 12 months prior to when surveyed in 2016. On average, volunteers gave 134 hours of their time over 12 months in 2015-16* or about 2.5 hours a week. The median number of hours volunteered annually was 55 hours (half did more and half did less).
*Participants were surveyed over February to September 2016 about giving in the 12 months prior.

Women are more likely to volunteer than men,  people aged between 35 and 44 are more likely to volunteer than other age groups, with 45–54 year olds the second most likely to volunteer, and volunteers 65 years and over volunteered the most hours on average.

Some 38.2% of people responding both volunteered and donated to nonprofit organisations.

The average donation was $1,017.11.



Volunteer Australia, submission, July-August 2017:

A 2017 Senate inquiry report into the Future of Australia’s aged care sector workforce also highlighted this with, “83 per cent of residential facilities and 51 per cent of home care and home support outlets utilising volunteer staff.” The inquiry also heard that “there are five volunteers for every paid worker in the not-for-profit sector, at a value of about $290 billion per annum. In 2016, 23,537 volunteers provided 114,987 hours of care to older Australians in residential facilities.”

North Coast NSW Medicare Local, North Coast Health Needs 2014:

The percentage of people volunteering in each LGA on NCNSW is higher than the NSW average.


Northern Rivers Social Development Council (NRSDC) undertook a Community Wellbeing Survey to measure how people felt about their quality of life and to highlight current social conditions. Forty one percent of people reported they volunteered with a local group (36% nationally). Forty four percent of survey respondents felt valued by society and 90% felt that they could get help from family and friends if needed.

By 2016 these were the volunteer levels across the NSW Northern Rivers region:

* 18.2% of the Tweed LGA population;
* 19.5% of Richmond Valley LGA population;
* 20.7% of the Clarence Valley LGA population;
* 22.9% of the Ballina LGA population;
* 23.2% of the Lismore City LGA population;
* 25.0% of the Byron LGA population;
* 26.1% Kyogle LGA population;

were reporting doing some form of voluntary work in the last twelve months. [ABS Census 2016 & profile.id.com.au]

Overall it appears that an est. 21.1 per cent of the Northern Rivers regional population does voluntary work, which is a higher percentage than the 2016 NSW state benchmark of 18.11 per cent .

Basically volunteer levels in the Northern Rivers are holding steady at last count. Every local volunteer should give themselves a pat on the back!