Brotherhood Comment November 2006

Brotherhood Comment November 2006

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ISSN 320 8632A regul Ar upd Ate from Soci Al Action And r e Se ArchNovember 2006Towards the good societyEvery so often a publication appears policy has faltered because the Blair to the downshifting among the which signals the beginning of a approach adapted to, rather than middle-aged, the Make Poverty new movement in social politics. broke with, economic rationalism. History campaign, the waves of This may be the case with the Blair’s social reforms were achieved environmental concern, increased recent publication of The good more by stealth than explicitly in volunteering and the serious weight society (Rutherford & Shah 2006) the name of a new society. Today, now attaching to corporate social in the United Kingdom. The thesis according to the authors, the responsibility. While these are of the book is that under New progressive wave that swept New not the familiar types of social Labour, Britain has remained in Labour to power in 1997 has not activism, they are indicative of a the midst of what it terms a ‘social abated. Indeed the Conservatives ‘latent progressive consensus’ which recession’; and the authors sketch are now also champions of public can also be found in Australia. the kinds of policies needed to services, the environment and As Tony Nicholson wrote in restore growth to British society. measures for redistribution. the August issue of Comment, political assessments of Australians The book is the product of the In Australia, under a ...

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Towards the good society Every so often a publication appears policy has faltered because the Blair which signals the beginning of a approach adapted to, rather than new movement in social politics. broke with, economic rationalism. This may be the case with the Blair’s social reforms were achieved recent publication of The good more by stealth than explicitly in society (Rutherford & Shah 2006) the name of a new society. Today, in the United Kingdom. The thesis according to the authors, the of the book is that under New progressive wave that swept New Labour, Britain has remained in Labour to power in 1997 has not the midst of what it terms a ‘social abated. Indeed the Conservatives recession’; and the authors sketch are now also champions of public the kinds of policies needed to services, the environment and restore growth to British society. measures for redistribution. The book is the product of the In Australia, under a more overtly Compass Programme for Renewal economic rationalist government, which was convened in 2005 and social expenditures have also with which are associated leading continued to grow—but again as social policy researchers such as if by stealth. The political bottom Ruth Lister, Fiona Williams and line appears to be that social Tony Fitzpatrick. Their discussion expenditures are not going to of Compass at this year’s British wither away in some neoliberal Social Policy Association conference utopia. Australians too need to highlighted a serious policy embrace the task of articulating quandary which had emerged the good society as the basis for a under the Blair Government. more transparent and accountable Demonstrable successes in areas approach to our social investment. such as child poverty and health had not delivered stronger public Also familiar to us are the support in opinion polling. As symptoms identified in The good Toynbee and Walker (2005) society of an awakening from the had argued, what was missing ‘social recession’. Chair of Compass, was a set of social values that Neal Lawson, refers for example could underpin policy and secure the buy-in of the public. The Compass group has produced a range of publications and conferences—including a ‘Renewal Roadshow’—designed to engage people in the articulation of what ought to be the ‘good society’ for Britain today. The particular policies canvassed in the book are less significant for us in Australia than the political context which is evoked. The authors propose that New Labour’s social
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to the downshifting among the middle-aged, the Make Poverty History campaign, the waves of environmental concern, increased volunteering and the serious weight now attaching to corporate social responsibility. While these are not the familiar types of social activism, they are indicative of a ‘latent progressive consensus’ which can also be found in Australia. As Tony Nicholson wrote in the August issue of Comment , political assessments of Australians as addicted to materialism and individualism are misplaced. For social policy research this development represents at least two serious challenges. First, we now find ourselves having to take social and political values seriously in a way that has not been seen since economics began to push the other social sciences off the policy stage in the late 1980s. Persistent, and basic, welfare questions such as what levels of poverty and inequality are unacceptable, how to balance social rights and obligations, how to realign the roles of state, community and the market are, as Bessant et al. (2005) pointed out, Continued page 2
ISSN 1320 8632 November 2006
Contents Enabling work for all: understanding the vocational needs of people facing multiple barriers 4–5 Unemployment and low-paid work: the low-pay, no-pay cycle 6–7 It’s not all about paid work: exploring caring–work transitions 8 Double trouble: the conjunction of Welfare to Work and WorkChoices legislation 9 Can in-work benefits reduce poverty? considering the arguments 10–11 Making saving a habit: monitoring outcomes of Saver Plus 12 Mental health and well-being: capturing the contribution of community arts 13 Community enterprises: documenting a bold experiment 14
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Continued from page 1 irreducibly ethical issues. We have to become at least as literate in these matters as we have become in the economics of social policy. Second, we cannot ignore the economics of The good society . As Romano (2006) has shown of both the Clinton and Blair governments, their social policy aspirations were often unrealised projects because they were inconsistent with a fiscal austerity which dominated a public policy grounded in the neoclassical approach. The Compass group is working on a companion book, The new political economy to address this problem; and we must do the same. Paul Smyth (03) 9483 1177 psmyth@bsl.org.au References Bessant J, Watts, R, Dalton, T & Smyth, P 2005, Talking policy: how social policy is made , Allen & Unwin, Sydney. Romano, F 2006, ‘Clinton and Blair: the economics of the Third Way’, Journal of Economic and Social Policy , vol.10, no.2, pp.79–93. Rutherford, J & Shah, H (eds) 2006, The good society , Compass in association with Lawrence & Wishart, London. Toynbee, P & Walker, D 2005, Better or worse? has labour delivered? , Bloomsbury, London.
Some recent research publications The following reports can be downloaded from the recent research reports page of the Brotherhood’s web site or ordered as print copies ($6.00 each, plus $3.00 p&p) by phoning Publications (03) 9483 1386. The Brotherhood’s Social disadvantage, exploring dimensions Barometer: challenges facing that every child should be free Australian youth (August 2006) to enjoy: to have good health, to Martina Boese and read and write, to control their Rosanna Scutella thoughts and emotions, to be free from violence and abuse, and This second issue of the Social to have access to an adequate Barometer examines how well level of economic resources. equipped Australia are (or are not) to negotiate successfully Raising young children in Greater the transition from childhood to Dandenong: an initial needs adulthood, from school to work study for the Communities for in a rapidly changing world. It Children program (June 2006) presents indicators of young people’s Janet Stanley, Nina Bailey, capabilities covering seven key Helen Ansems, Martina dimensions of life from physical Boese and Jill Webb and mental health to education and employment and social and This small study documented civic participation. Sections of the the needs of families with young report are introduced by individual children in Dandenong, drawing on case studies. The barometer consultations with local residents concentrates on national data, and and with selected community pays particular attention to young groups (e.g. playgroups and adult people with socioeconomically English classes) caring for children disadvantaged, refugee and and serving people who may be Indigenous backgrounds. at risk of social exclusion. The needs study was supported by The Brotherhood’s Social Mission Australia – Communities Barometer: monitoring children’s for Children – Dandenong in chances (December 2005) partnership with the City of Greater Rosanna Scutella and Paul Smyth Dandenong. Communities for Children is funded by the Australian In this first issue of the Social Government under the Stronger Barometer series, the Brotherhood Families and Communities Strategy. of St Laurence highlights the disadvantages facing some of Australia’s children. The report presents indicators of children’s capabilities and childhood
Brotherhood Comment is published three times a year by the Social Published in November 2006 by Action and Research Division of the Brotherhood of St Laurence. Brotherhood of St Laurence 67 Brunswick Street The Brotherhood of St Laurence works for the well-being of Australians Fitzroy, Victoria, 3065 Australia on low incomes to improve their economic, social and personal circumstances. ABN 24 603 467 024 It does this by providing a wide range of services and activities for families, the unemployed and the aged. It also researches the causes of poverty, FTaelepihmiolne:e :( (0033) ) 9944187 32 1619813  undertakes community education and lobbies government for a better deal cmsail: for people on low incomes. E- publications@bsl.org.au
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From the General Manager, Social Action and Research
The year 2006 draws to a close with a very different social policy research environment from twelve months ago. Then we were launching the first Brotherhood’s Social Barometer: monitoring children’s chances . It was our attempt to bring poverty research out of the depths of the so-called poverty wars and to initiate a more constructive national discussion of how best to invest in the capacities of Australians so everyone had the opportunity to realise their aspirations. Happily, today warring about poverty definitions is over. Indeed, it is ‘making poverty history’ that better captures the mood of the times. Transitions and integration With this confirmation of our general approach, this year has been very much about following through to discover the implications for people within the key transitions of the life cycle. To our work on the early years we have added the second Brotherhood’s Social Barometer: challenges facing Australian youth . At its launch, the plenary address by Richard Sweet highlighted the nation’s only average performance in terms of school to work transitions. Since then we have been working together with partners such as VCOSS, YACVIC, Orygen and the Interface Councils in metropolitan Melbourne on clarifying the key policy issues. ARACY has also taken a significant initiative in creating a network to develop a new ‘youth agenda’  . Work on our next transition ‘In and Out of Work’ will be completed early in the new year and will be followed by the final Barometer focusing on ageing and retirement. With the new BSL strategic plan organised around the four transitions, our research is now much more closely articulated with BSL services. Combined research and practice groups work in a
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way that better embeds our research in the service and advocacy work of the organisation as a whole. A long-time observer of the BSL recently remarked that she had never seen research, services and advocacy as well integrated as they are today. Sambell Oration by Geoff Gallop A new research interest to emerge this year was the issue of achieving a better balance between social rights and responsibilities. Public response to the Sambell Oration by former premier of Western Australia, Geoff Gallop, underlined its importance. While the Brotherhood’s new investment model has been concerned with establishing a new set of rights and entitlements adapted to the contemporary context, we are also clear that we need to address the corresponding obligations. While avoiding a narrow interpretation of ‘mutual obligation’ which can be more about removing people from welfare rolls than enhancing our sense of citizenship, Gallop pointed out why there can indeed be no rights without an active discharge of responsibilities. At the conference Tony Nicholson proposed parenting contracts as one measure to operationalise these principles. Perhaps the most interesting social policy story of 2006 was the generosity of the minimum wage awarded by the Fair Pay Commission in October. According to Judith Brett, who presented a seminar at the Brotherhood on the politics of ordinary Australians, this decision should resonate with them. In her findings, the norms around fair pay and reluctance to be ‘on welfare’ remain strongly embedded. While we will closely monitor future minimum wage determinations, this announcement leaves unattended the outstanding agenda of how these wage decisions can be more effectively linked to decisions taken elsewhere on
tax and welfare entitlements. In this issue Rosanna Scutella looks at different options canvassed around the tax system; while Verity Archer foreshadows further work on the interaction of welfare with industrial relations changes. Seminar program We have been very fortunate to attract excellent speakers to our lunchtime seminars. John Altman spoke about the constrained politics of Indigenous research and policy development. George Megalogenis foreshadowed a new social politics to be carried forward by the ‘children of deregulation’. Frank Castles demonstrated that the poor are better served by universal rather than targeted welfare systems. Verity Archer revealed the history of the term ‘dole bludger’ focusing on the key role of right wing think tanks since the 1970s. Gerry Naughtin examined financial disadvantage among older Australians, highlighting the diversity of experience. Finally, as reported by Lucy Nelms in this issue, Deborah Brennan showed how poorly we perform in international terms in relation to work and family balance. Partnerships This issue of Comment also includes progress reports from ongoing significant partnerships between the Brotherhood and the ANZ Bank (Saver Plus, evaluated by RMIT researchers), University of Melbourne (concerning community arts and mental health) and the Department for Victorian Communities (in community enterprise development). Paul Smyth (03) 9483 1177 psmyth@bsl.org.au
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Enabling work for all Understanding the vocational needs of people facing multiple barriers Welfare recipients facing severe DEWR-funded Personal Support government and program staff or multiple personal barriers, Programme who face an average to ensure appropriate support. such as mental health problems, of nine personal barriers found homelessness, drug and alcohol that 74 per cent listed work or Many studies have described the issues, family breakdown and education as the activity they would high value that diverse participants social isolation currently achieve most like to be doing now (Perkins place on moving into work (Perkins poor labour market outcomes in 2005). In a large UK study, Singh 2006). Reported benefits include many OECD countries. Research (2005) reported that 77 per cent of improved self-esteem/self-image and indicates that the vocational homeless people wanted to work mental well-being; pride in working; needs of this group are not well now and that 97 per cent wanted to a sense of purpose, independence served by the dominant work-first work in the future; and, reviewing and place in society; increased approach—emphasising rapid the research for people with mental ability to organise daily life and employment placement, short- health problems, Evans (2000, break the dependency culture; term job skills training, work p.15) observes an ‘overwhelming reduced chaos, boredom and mandates and penalties for non- consensus from surveys, cases depression; and opportunities for compliance—nor by alternative studies and personal accounts that personal growth, the development of approaches that supplement work users want to work’. A substantial competencies and new friendships. first programs with referrals to proportion of people with mental On the negative side, participants support services or divert people health problems (even serious have reported restrictions on other outside the employment system mental illness) report wanting activities, problems adjusting into other sectors such as mental to work and see employment to the routine, negative social health or drug and alcohol. as feasible, important to their experiences, stress, and experiences recovery, and as an often unmet that reduce self-esteem. These point Work first programs appear unable need (Waghorn & Lloyd 2005). to the need for ongoing support, to provide appropriate vocational as well as careful choice of jobs interventions and comprehensive However, it is also important to that can maximise positive effects support; and barrier-focused note that a significant minority and minimise negative effects. interventions tend to concentrate of clients facing personal barriers on impairments, often fail to feel unable to cope with the Empirical studies have confirmed recognise the significance of work, demands of work (Perkins 2005), positive effects, and none have are unaware of labour market do not see it as important or reported overall negative effects, opportunities, and may provide have other preferred roles such from gaining competitive inadequate or inappropriate as parenting, studying, caring for employment (Perkins 2006). Benefits vocational assistance. An additional family members or volunteering include increased self-esteem, problem recognised by a growing (Waghorn & Lloyd 2005). improved psychological and social number of researchers is the functioning, increased motivation attitude of some professionals and Benefits of employment for recovery, realistic rather than support staff that participants Research suggests that appropriate negative appraisals of the future, should not be encouraged to work, employment can provide a range and improved health outcomes. based on a misplaced desire to of benefits (Honey 2004). Even for Some studies have also found ‘protect the vulnerable clients’, people with severe mental illness, that employment or vocational and an unsubstantiated belief that appropriate competitive employment programs can assist participants in employment is not realistic and has been found both to be feasible overcoming other barriers like drug could harm the participants’ mental and not to be detrimental. Marrone problems (Shepard & Reif 2004). health or well-being (Waghorn & and Golowka (1999) argue that Lloyd 2005; Evans & Repper 2000). given the evidence suggesting that Work may also have a beneficial people with mental health problems effect simply by moving people Desire to work can work, it should be viewed as out of the state of unemployment, In fact, there is substantial both a right and a responsibility. which is linked to poorer mental evidence that appropriate work However, they caution that this health and well-being. Australian is beneficial for, and desired by, a is not intended to deny the real research found that unemployment large proportion of people facing barriers people face nor to advocate had a negative impact on mental personal barriers. Recent research a ‘get tough’ approach, but to health and could impede a move by the Brotherhood with long- place greater accountability on back into employment; and term unemployed people in the another study using the Australian
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Even for people with severe mental illness, appropriate competitive employment has been found both to be feasible and not to be detrimental.
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Longitudinal Survey indicated that unemployment was causally linked to a 50 per cent increase in psychological disturbance (Flatau et al. 2000). Overseas studies have reported similar results as well as negative impacts on well-being and life satisfaction. What works Evidence suggests a need for new interventions that can provide intensive employment assistance and integrated support to address personal issues. Looking at homeless people with mental health problems in the US, Shaheen et al. (2003) found two themes across all successful programs: a belief in the value of work at the earliest possible stage as an aid to the recovery process, and a recognition that a job can help people develop motivation, dignity and self-respect. They reported five key factors: an organisational climate and culture that supported work; facilitation of employment; emphasis on consumer preferences and strengths; ongoing, flexible, individualised support; and re-placement assistance (when participants do not stay in jobs). Other important elements included broadly defined goals and endorsement of employment success at any level. Program elements identified as important by other researchers (Perkins 2006) include: • small case loads of around 25 • providing a variety of activities appropriate to individuals at different times • a strong understanding of the local labour market and working closely with employers • financial incentives to increase the take-up of work • intensive assessment and goal-setting process with other participants
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employment specialists Flatau, P, Galea, J & Petridis, R 2000, spending more time out of the ‘Mental health and wellbeing and office assisting participants unemployment’, The Australian Economic Review , vol.33, no.2, pp.161–81. high expectations in Honey, A 2004, ‘Benefits and drawbacks goal achievement and of employment: perspectives of people lifestyle advancement with mental illness’, Qual Health Res , vol.14, no.3, pp.381–95. de a sunpdpionrgt ijvoeb se nthviarto pnrmoveint Marrone, J & Golowka, E 1999, ‘If work makes people with mental illness sick, what • si sta do unemployment, poverty, and social vuoticliatinognal effx pweirtthi ssep ecic isolation cause?’ Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal , vol.23, no.2, pp.187–93. Evidence suggests a need for new apnrod vimdeinntgo prienegr  support Perkins, D 2005, Personal Support inter ntions Programme evaluation: interim report , ve iding developmental work Brotherhood of St Laurence, Fitzroy. that can provide • prov intensive employer —— opportunities for those not 2006, Improving employment assistance and ready to move into employment participation for welfare recipients integrated facing personal barriers , paper delivered • help with upgrading skills to the Social Policy Association support lt io addsr.ess to advance to better jobs Conference, July 18–20, Birmingham. persona ssue tinuing support Shaheen, G E, Williams, F & Dennis, D 2003, • con Work as a priority: A resource for employing after employment. people who have serious mental illnesses and who are homeless , US Department of Health A practical obstacle to the and Human Services, viewed 30 June 2005, widespread application of such <http://www.mentalhealth.org/publications/ promising intensive approaches is allpubs/SMA03-3834/default.asp >. the substantial investment required Shepard, D S & Reif, S 2004, ‘The value by government, compared with of vocational rehabilitation in substance the low-cost high-pressure work user treatment: a cost-effectiveness first approach. However, such framework’, Substance Use & Misuse , investment is also likely to provide vol.39, no. 13–14, pp.2581–609. significant returns, in the light of the Singh, P 2005, No home, no job: moving h co on from transitional spaces , Off the haingd it iss tisn  olif nleo nwgi-tthe rtmhe j onbelwe ssCnOesAs;G  Streets and into Work, London. reform agenda (2005) calling for Waghorn, G & Lloyd, C 2005, The ved su employment of people with mental ipmeoprploe with pcpoomrpt lseexr vnieceeds sf otro  illness , prepared for the Mental Illness enhance workforce partici ti Fellowship of Australia, viewed 1 June 2005, pa on <http://www.schizophrenia.org.au/ and productivity by building the pdfs/MIFA%20Employment.pdf >. nation’s human capital’ (pp.2, 39). Daniel Perkins (03) 9483 1381 dperkins@bsl.org.au References COAG 2005, Human capital reform: report by the COAG National Reform Initiative Working Group, December 2005 , viewed 28 March 2006, <http://www.coag.gov.au/ meetings/100206/human_cap tal_ _ i reform report_COAG_100206.pdf>. Evans, J & Repper, J 2000, ‘Employment, social inclusion and mental health’, Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing , vol.7, no.1, pp.15–24.
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Unemployment and low-paid work The low-pay, no-pay cycle The federal government’s welfare- Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) two states, Table 2 reports the to-work changes have adopted a survey has been examined. HILDA probabilities of people being in ‘work first’ strategy. This approach is a survey of Australian households various labour market states at focuses on getting people off welfare occupying private dwellings and a point in time (t) , given their and into any job, and assumes has been conducted annually labour market circumstances that this will enable the person to since 2001 (Goode & Watson observed in the previous year (t-1). develop transferable on-the-job 2006). All persons interviewed skills and act as a stepping stone to in the first wave are contacted Unemployment is quite persistent further employment opportunities. in subsequent waves making it (probability of 0.282), with people possible to examine individual and unemployed the previous year 17 However, limited empirical analysis household circumstances over time. times more likely to be unemployed has been conducted in Australia Full-time students and people 65 a year later. Low-paid employment to determine whether any job years and over are excluded from is also persistent (0.448 probability), will do, and if not, what factors the analysis presented below. with those in low-paid employment ensure a ‘successful’ vocational twelve months earlier 7 times more pathway. International evidence The OECD denition of low pay lai kyeelay rt lo tbeer  itnh laon wt-hpoasied  wehmop lwoyment International suggests that entering low-paid is used: people are categorised as employment may be no better for low paid if their hourly wage is in highear paid employment. ere seuvigdgeenstcse  that longer term employment prospects less than two-thirds of the median entering low-paid  than unemployment, typically hourly rate. This ranged from There is also a positive relationship employment leading to a ‘low-pay, no-pay’ cycle $10.57 per hour (2001) to $11. 9 4 between unemployment and low-may be no better (for instance, see Stewart 2002; (2004) for the analysis below. paid employment. People who were for longer term Richardson & Miller-Lewis 2002). unemployed the previous year are employment Table 1 presents the probability of twice as likely to be in low-paid prospects than This article examines whether having a particular labour force employment one year later than unemployment, there is evidence in the Australian typically leading labour market of a low-pay, no-pay oystfe aaatr usps,e  iarnst coalnun dybi etniignm gte h looe vwlie-krp etalhiihed  ofifoo du r tppweeooelppvlleee   imwn ohlnoot whw-se preaeai rdel imeermp laporlyeoe ydmm. oeArnelts  o, tnoo -ap laoy wc-ypcaly, cycle. Such a cycle occurs when e. the low-paid are more likely to they are employed. People have than 2.3 times more likely to become unemployed in the future, a 71 per cent chance of being be unemployed than those who the unemployed are more likely employed, a 25 per cent chance were in higher paid work. These to be low-paid when they enter of being out of the labour force aggregate figures indeed suggest employment, and this probability and a 4 per cent chance of being a ‘low-pay no-pay’ cycle in the of being low-paid rises even further unemployed. Among those in the Australian labour market. if the individual was low-paid workforce, 14 out of every 100 are before becoming unemployed. likely to be in low-paid work. Further analysis needed However, these figures do not take This can happen when there To determine whether there into account any differences in the are ‘scarring’ effects of both is evidence of persistence in characteristics of people in each unemployment and low-paid work. unemployment and/or low labour market state, which may help It is widely demonstrated that paid work and whether there to explain these observed patterns. unemployment reduces a person’s is a relationship between the The next step of the research is future employment prospects (Knights, Harris & Loundes 2002). Table 1: Probability of labour force status at Less examined is the possibility any time over four years (2001–04) that certain low-paid jobs may have similar scarring effects on Status Probability an individual’s future labour market prospects (Stewart 2002). Employment 0.711 (Low paid employment) (0.142) Preliminary evidence To examine whether this pattern Unemployment 0.042 is observed in Australia, data Not in labour force 0.247 from the first four waves of the Household Income and Labour Source: Author’s calculations from HILDA data
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Table 2: Probability of labour force status, given status in previous year Status, conditional on particular Probability status in previous time period Unemployed in t, given unemployed in t-1 0.282 Unemployed in t, given employed in t-1 0.017 Ratio (17.115) Low paid in t, given low paid in t-1 0.448 Low paid in t, given higher paid in t-1 0.063 Ratio (7.119) Low paid in t, given unemployed in t-1 0.233 Low paid in t, given employed in t-1 0.114 Ratio (2.032) Unemployed in t, given /low paid in t-1 0.032 Unemployed in t, given /higher paid in t-1 0.014 Ratio (2.331) t = current year t-1 = previous year Source: Author’s calculations from HILDA data to a ress t is. Nevert e ess, Programs ocusing on retention an the results do provide at least advancement of the unemployed preliminary evidence of a low-pay are being trialled in countries no-pay cycle and an indication that such as the UK and the US. These low-paid work is not necessarily programs provide in-work support sufficient for the unemployed to and training for low skilled and remain in the labour force. disadvantaged people re-entering the labour force by providing Employment retention and continued support following entry advancement programs to work and encouraging training The Brotherhood believes that and skills development to improve other initiatives are needed to further labour market prospects. improve employment retention and This reduces the risk of longer term development of the unemployed poverty and social exclusion. entering the labour market. There is evidence that intensive There is currently no such support employment assistance works available for vulnerable low-when education and training is paid workers in Australia. The provided to those most at risk primary labour market assistance and the emphasis is on getting mechanism, the Job Network, people into ‘good’ jobs (Campbell, focuses instead on short-term Maniha & Rolston 2002). outcomes and emphasises rapid
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movement into any job, without ongoing support to facilitate career advancement or skill development. The Brotherhood would like to see a more creative approach taken in Australia Acknowledgment The HILDA Project was funded, and is initiated, by the Commonwealth Department of Family and Community Services (FaCS). The views expressed in this article, however, are the author’s and should not be attributed to either FaCS or the ePemopplle inm leonwt -paid Melbourne Institute. HILDA oy twelve months is described in more detail in earlier are more Goode and Watson (2006). than 2.3 times more likely to be Rosanna Scutella unemployed than (03) 9483 1324 those who were in rscutella@bsl.org.au higher paid work. References Campbell, N, Maniha, J & Rolston, H 2002, Job retention and advancement in welfare reform , Policy Brief No.18, The Brookings Institution, viewed 1 June 2006, <www.brookings.edu/wrb>. Goode, A. & Watson, N. (eds) 2006, HILDA User Manual – Release 4.0 , Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, University of Melbourne. Knights, S, Harris, M & Loundes, J 2002, ‘Dynamic relationships in the Australian labour market: heterogeneity and state dependence’, The Economic Record , vol.78, no.242. Richardson, S & Miller-Lewis, L 2002, Low wage jobs and pathways to better outcomes , Treasury Working Paper Series, New Zealand Treasury, viewed 11 October 2006 <http:// ideas.repec.org/p/nzt/nztwps/02-29.html>. Stewart, M 2002, The inter-related dynamics of unemployment and low pay , University of Warwick, unpublished manuscript, viewed 11 October 2006 <http://econpapers.repec.org/ cpd/2002/108_Stewart.pdf >.
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It’s not all about paid work Exploring caring–work transitions The third Brotherhood Social paid maternity leave, while some Barometer, due for release early in women have to use sick leave 2007, will focus on the working or annual leave to cover their years. It will highlight the maternity period (ABS 2006). experience of transitions in and out of paid employment. The Barometer However there are some signs of will capture transitions associated broadening support for significant with lifelong learning, volunteer change to the ways in which carers activity and especially caring. are assisted to balance work and caring in Australia. To take a The Brotherhood views caring recent example, the Taskforce as a legitimate and necessary on Care Costs, representing activity that supports paid high-profile businesses and non-work. It recognises that these government organisations, are two activities are inextricably lobbying for change, fearing the linked. However we seek better impact of labour shortages as high understanding of and protection costs force workers to withdraw against the ‘risk’ associated with to engage in care. They have transitions between them. proposed a 50 per cent government reimbursement of care costs (up to The Barometer findings will a maximum payment of $10,000 a inform our policy work on smooth year per household), to be extended transitions between work and to care for the elderly and disabled other forms of participation and as well as child-care (Horin 2006). measures to protect disadvantaged Australians against related risks. Closing the gap This article draws attention to Why does Australia lag behind? scope for improvement in policies The argument is often put that concerning work and family. introducing policies such as paid maternity leave in Australia at Supporting the work of caring the employer’s expense would At a recent Brotherhood seminar, cost jobs, that it would ensure Deborah Brennan drew attention European-style two-digit to the range of provisions in Nordic unemployment figures. However countries such as guaranteed the possibility of supporting government-funded child-care work-caring transitions while places, paid maternity/paternity maintaining low unemployment leave and extended parental leave. levels should not be discounted. For example, Norway provides 52 weeks’ parental leave (paid at Even the United Kingdom, whose 80 per cent of recipients’ average institutions are more comparable wages), reserving 12 weeks for the to Australia’s and which once mother and 6 weeks for the father trailed like Australia, has made (daddy quota) with the rest to be significant progress in recent shared. Such policies encourage years. Its Statutory Maternity Pay both parents’ involvement in child (90 per cent of average weekly care, but also support high maternal earnings for six weeks and then a employment rates by maintaining maximum of £106 for 20 weeks) attachment to the labour market. is paid by employers and is largely recovered from government. By contrast, for example, Australia For those who do not qualify, is the only country in the OECD, Maternity Allowance is provided apart from the US, which does at a similar level (DTI 2006). The not have universal paid maternity UK still boasts a similarly low leave. Only 35% of women use  unemployment rate to Australia.
8   November  0260 
The UK has yet to support caring– work transitions as fully as the Nordic countries, for example in promoting fathers’ involvement in caring work and achieving public acceptance of the value of this. As Compass (a UK group promoting policy for an equal and democratic world) argues: The social security system could be reformed so that the distinction between being in work and being out of work becomes less fixed, and activities such as caring or volunteering are recognised as contributions to society which require support. (Rutherford & Shah 2006, p. 42) Australia must think about how it can best make policy that values and supports the caring–work transition, especially as an ageing population further increases the demand for caring. Lucy Nelms (03) 9483 1176 lnelms@bsl.org.au References Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) 2006, Paid maternity leave used by one-third of employed mothers-to-be , media release, 23 October, viewed 24 October 2006, <http://www.abs.gov.au>. Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) 2006, Maternity leave: a basic summary , DTI, London, viewed 18 October 2006, <http://www.dti.gov.uk/ employment/employment-legislation/ employment-guidance/page17194.htm l>. Horin, A 2006, ‘Bosses do battle for child-care subsidies’, Sydney Morning Herald , 18 October, p.3. Rutherford, J & Shah, H (eds) 2006, The good society: Compass Programme for Renewal , Compass and Lawrence &Wishart, London.
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Nordic countries’ policies encourage both parents’ involvement in child care, but also support high maternal employment rates by maintaining attachment to the labour market.
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