AUSTRALIAN PRAYER NETWORK NEWSLETTER – AUSTRALIAN NEWS 26th FEBRUARY 2014
- INDIGENOUS JOBS GAP WIDENING
- SURVEY SHOWS YOUNGER COUPLES PREFER MARRIAGE
- NSW CHURCHES SUPPORT PREMIERS TOUGH STANCE ON ALCOHOL
INDIGENOUS JOBS GAP WIDENING
More than halfway to the deadline for the nation’s goal of halving the employment gap between black and white Australians, the disparity has widened, prompting Tony Abbott’s Parliamentary Secretary for Indigenous Affairs to call for radical changes to the welfare regime. Figures released recently reveal that although there were 28,000 more indigenous people in full employment in 2012-13 than in 2008, the gap in the percentage of black and white Australians with a job widened by 2.8 percentage points. The employment rate of non-indigenous Australians increased from 75% to 75.6% between 2008 and 2012-13, but the indigenous employment rate fell from 48.2% to 45.9%.
This breaks a positive trend in indigenous employment for the 15 years prior. Parliamentary secretary Alan Tudge said the problem had not been a decline in the number of indigenous people employed since 2008 – the data shows a rise of 17,500 – but rather that jobs growth was not keeping up with population increase. While ABS census data for 2006 and 2011 previously showed the gap closing, the ABS National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social and health surveys data from 2002, 2008 and 2012-13 shows the gap widening. “The positive news is that the actual number of indigenous people working today is higher than in 2008,” Mr Tudge said.
“This may have been from new jobs created for indigenous people, but is also likely to be from already employed people identifying as indigenous for the first time.” He said the key problem was that jobs growth had not kept up with the indigenous population increase. The indigenous population aged 15-64 increased by 76,000 from 2008 to 2012-13, or 24.5 per cent, while the non-indigenous population of the same age increased by 7 per cent. While such a trend continues, the proportion of indigenous people employed will continue to fall. “If only 46 per cent of the indigenous working age population are in jobs, then significant disadvantage will remain,” Mr Tudge said.
Some Community Development Employment Projects (CDEP) participants took up real jobs when CDEP was closed down in urban areas, but a large number became unemployed or left the labour force, he said. Mr Tudge said the figures demonstrate a “tweak to existing programs and policy settings” will not rapidly change the employment trajectory. “We need to reconsider everything we are doing in relation to indigenous training and employment,” he writes. “We cannot break the cycle of indigenous disadvantage without more people being employed. Along with education and community safety, it is our absolute priority. With work comes self-esteem, dignity and economic independence.”
Mr Tudge said that almost half of all working-age indigenous Australians receive welfare as their main source of income. “There is immense goodwill in the Australian community today and there are pockets of great success, but the cold fact is that the employment gap between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians has widened in recent years. “There is no simple solution to this, but there are many positive ideas put forward in the Forrest review by indigenous leaders, businesses and other experts. I remain optimistic that if we get the settings right then together we can change the trajectory.”
The Abbott government is working with mining magnate Andrew Forrest on a review of the nation’s indigenous jobs regime. Mr Forrest has called for job and training funds to be tied to success rates. Mr Tudge says many of the submissions to the review raised the detrimental incentive of welfare to lock young people out of work. “The message is that the welfare rules have to change so that there is every incentive and support for able-bodied people to get into work,” he writes. “In remote areas in particular it has been pointed out that welfare and housing are closely connected.
Mr Trudge continued “If a person stays in a remote community, their family will receive a house which is free or almost free. Whereas if they leave to get a job, then they will have to tackle the tough and expensive private housing market. Housing should be an enabler of employment, not an impediment.” He says that the good news hidden behind the latest disappointing figures is the level of engagement and goodwill by corporations, indigenous leaders and others. “Corporations with tens of thousands of employees, such as Coles, have gone from a few dozen indigenous employees to several hundred in two or three years, and will employ many more if we improve training and jobs policy.”
Source: Compiled by APN from media reports
SURVEY SHOWS YOUNGER COUPLES PREFER MARRIAGE
A generational shift is taking place in attitudes to marriage, with younger couples appearing more committed to the institution than their older peers. Relationships Australia’s Lyn Fletcher said ”Young people are thinking seriously about marriage and parenting before going into long-term relationships and having children,” she said. ”If there is a thoughtfulness going into a relationship, they’re less inclined to just jump out of it.” A survey by law firm Slater & Gordon of more than 2000 couples in married and de facto relationships found more than half those aged 25 to 34 would stay in an unhappy marriage for the sake of the children. In contrast, only 44 per cent of those aged 44 to 54 would stay on.
The divorce rate is at its lowest level since 1975, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, while the marriage rate has steadily risen since 2001. The proportion of divorces involving children is at its lowest since 1966 at 48.8 per cent. The median length of a marriage is 12 years, compared with 10 years in the early 1980s. The median age for divorce has risen from 37 for men and 34 for women in 1985 to 45 for men and 42 for women in 2011. Australian Institute of Family Studies senior researcher Lixia Qu attributed the decline in the divorce rate in part to the fact that couples are marrying later in life.
”People are quite cautious nowadays about marriage,” Ms Qu said. ”When they do get married, they’re older, they’re a bit more mature, they’ve experienced a sort of weeding-out process.” The Slater & Gordon survey matches Australian Institute of Family Studies research showing couples are increasingly likely to split up when their children finish school. The rate of divorces after 20 years of marriage rose from 13 per cent in 1990 to 28 per cent in 2011. ”When children have grown up, there is no such constraint to stay on in the marriage,” Ms Qu said, noting women were less likely to rely on their husband financially.
Source: Compiled by APN from media reports
NSW CHURCHES SUPPORT PREMIERS TOUGH STANCE ON ALCOHOL
Longer sentencing and mandatory minimum sentences for serious and fatal assaults involving alcohol and other drugs are part of the solution to crack down on alcohol abuse in NSW. The President of the NSW Council of Churches, the Reverend Dr Ross Clifford, said “People in NSW are sick and tired of lame duck excuses for abusive behaviour caused by alcohol consumption. It’s time to put in place significant measures to curb alcohol abuse,” Dr Clifford said. Dr Clifford said church leaders across NSW supported recently announced tough new measures to crack down on offenders announced by Premier Barry O’Farrell.
“Strict bail and parole conditions for serious offenders, such as bans on entering licensed premises and a requirement of zero alcohol consumption, may also help change the binge drinking culture and reduce the level of alcohol-related violence,” Dr Clifford said. “The Newcastle trials demonstrated that earlier pub closing times, lock-outs, and restrictions on the sale of high-alcohol content drinks can significantly reduce alcohol-related violence. However, we need to see these trials extended across the State, not only in local areas such as the Sydney CBD and Kings Cross.”
Source: Press Release from NSW Council of Churches
NATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER AND FASTING 2nd MARCH 2014
40 DAYS OF PRAYER AND FASTING 5th MARCH till 13th APRIL 2014
Source: NDOP Organisers