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Issue #1743      August 10, 2016


Under the NDIS hundreds of thousands of people with disabilities will now get services they’ve never had. But closer examination of the National Disability Insurance Scheme is required. The Health and Community Services Union says the public should demand nothing less in return for the $22 billion spent on the scheme and the vulnerability of the recipients. But that’s not happening. As the funding formula stands in some states, the most vulnerable people – those with profound disabilities living in residential accommodation – are likely to get a significantly lesser service. Furthermore, the scheme is being rolled out without “quality and safeguarding guidelines” in place. Health professional and carer staff numbers are supposed to double, but there’s no allowance for training in the funding formula, or for minimum qualifications of the staff who support people with complex cognitive and health issues. In addition, the proposed structures are set up to drive down the wages and conditions of workers in the sector. Set up to fail?

Housing bubble about to burst? In a recent survey of 1,500 people with a mortgage, ten percent said they would be unable to meet their minimum loan repayments over the next year. This is exacerbated by average wage growth being at an 18 year low. Total household indebtedness has reached new record highs. A recipe for disaster?

Children are being groomed for gambling through multiplayer first-person shooter games. But according to Senator Nick Xenophon their parents are oblivious. “This is the Wild West of online gambling that is actually targeting kids,” he says. The games, such as Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, are played by hundreds of thousands of Australian teenagers. Gambling on video games is estimated to be worth $10.5 billion this year and is wholly unregulated. It’s along the lines of alcohol and tobacco: get ‘em hooked early and you’ve got ‘em for life.

Following the strong swing against the Turnbull government at the election, Community and Public Sector Union delegates are rolling out a multi-faceted plan to resolve bargaining and achieve decent outcomes for members. Because of the government’s hardline and unworkable bargaining policy, around 75 percent of Commonwealth public servants – more than 100,000 workers – still don’t have a new agreement and haven’t had a pay rise in more than two years. Before the federal election Employment Minister Michaelia Cash and PM Turnbull would not agree to meet with the union and explore a resolution to their bargaining mess. The union sees the strong swing against the Turnbull government at the election and community concerns on issues such as outsourcing Medicare payments, CSIRO jobs and workplace rights means it should change its approach and start listening, including to their own staff on Commonwealth bargaining.

Next article – Culture & Life – The business of government in NSW

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