3 August 2011

Social Impacts Alert for July

Allison Ziller does such a terrific job with her Social Impacts Alerts. Here's the one for July:

A ‘transfer accelerator’ or a bit of urban fun?: http://popupcity.net/2011/07/slide-to-the-train/

In The Press
Adele Horin, The dark legacy of child abuse, SMH 2-3 July 2011, “A hidden history of child abuse may lie behind the myriad social problems that afflict Australia, from its high rate of depression to its high rate of homelessness. We are more aware, partly thanks to the wayward Catholic clergy, of the existence of child abuse. But that has not translated into an understanding of its pervasive and long-lasting legacy.” http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/society-and-culture/the-dark-legacy-of-child-abuse-20110701-1gv68.html#ixzz1RtYWQG67

Deborah Smith, Dementia is a major killer poorly understood, SMH 4 July 2011: “The world needs more famous people to speak out about their dementia, according to a visiting brain expert. Baroness Susan Greenfield, a neuroscientist at Oxford University, said there was an ''inexplicable and disturbing disparity'' between the amount of money spent on research on dementia compared with other conditions such as cancer and heart disease. Greater awareness of brain degeneration might help overcome this.” http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/lifematters/appeal-to-hear-the-silent-voices-of-dementia-20110703-1gxfv.html#ixzz1Rta9V4Yi

Aaron Cook, Australia turns blind eye to children in most need, SMH 6 July 2011: “AUSTRALIA is failing its most vulnerable children and has made little progress in five years to improve the protection of children's rights, the chief executive of UNICEF Australia, Norman Gillespie, said. A report compiled by the National Children's and Youth Law Centre and UNICEF calls for the appointment of a children's commissioner to promote children's rights and tackle the failure of governments to involve young people in making decisions about their lives.” http://www.smh.com.au/national/nation-turns-deaf-ear-to-children-most-in-need-20110705-1h0ur.html#ixzz1RtjGa0Id

Josh Dowse, Problem gamblers can’t judge cost of pokies – others have no excuse, SMH 6 July 2011 http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/society-and-culture/problem-gamblers-cant-judge-cost-of-pokies--others-have-no-excuse-20110705-1h0ol.html Most of us underestimate what we spend, but not by much. For every $100 we say we spend on transport, we actually spend $104, according to the Productivity Commission, which compared Bureau of Statistics household surveys with reliable industry data. For rent and communications, that rises to $111. For clothing and homeware, we actually spend about $132. For alcohol, $158. But for gambling, if we say we have spent $100, on average we have really spent $735. Then there are the pokies. On average, if pokie players say they have spent $100, they have actually spent $3448. That's not a misprint: they are apparently aware of just 2.9 per cent of what they are losing. Poker machines are not just another form of recreation. Last year's report on gambling by the commission paints a clear picture of the damage pokies do. About 10 per cent of Australian adults gamble regularly (excluding sharemarket speculation). Of that 10 per cent, between 5 and 10 per cent are problem gamblers - that's about 120,000 people. A further 230,000 to 350,000 are taking risks that make them vulnerable to problem gambling. The clubs industry's campaign against restrictions on poker machines says pokie players who are problem gamblers are a tiny minority. This does not stack up against the commission's figures. Pokie players make up 40 per cent of Australian gamblers, but deliver 55 per cent of gambling revenue, and account for 80 per cent of problem gamblers. These 95,000 people account for 41 per cent of the $10.45 billion in pokie revenue. That's $4.3 billion a year, or an astounding $45,100 each.

Jessica Irvine, Women gain power – without quotas, SMH 7 July 2011: “Australian women have bucked the international trend by achieving 30 per cent of seats in Parliament without the use of quotas. The first major report by UN Women - the new United Nations body given the job of promoting gender equality - has found that of the 28 other countries that have broken this 30 per cent ''critical mass mark'', 23 got there by using quotas. http://www.smh.com.au/national/women-gain-power--without-the-quotas-20110706-1h2kk.html#ixzz1Rthm7RIS

Peter Martin, Sydney, more costly to live in, and with fewer jobs, SMH 8 July 2011: “New figures show NSW shedding jobs at the fastest rate in the nation, losing 22,100 workers during six months in which every other state bar Tasmania built up employment. The Bureau of Statistics figures show Victoria gained 25,300 jobs in the six months to June, Western Australia 17,100, South Australia 11,100 and Queensland 4900... The losing states - whose economies are lagging on measures including wages, consumer spending, jobs and population - are NSW, the ACT and Tasmania.” http://m.smh.com.au/nsw/sydney-more-costly-to-live-in-and-with-fewer-jobs-20110707-1h4wl.html

Erik Jensen, Diabetes rate soars in poorer areas,  SMH 11 July 2011:  “The rate of diabetes has increased by up to 40 per cent over five years in coastal retirement areas of NSW and has reached worryingly high levels in western Sydney - areas of the state least able to deal with the illness. New analysis shows the incidence of diabetes in NSW has increased by an average of 27 per cent in that period.” http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/wellbeing/diabetes-rate-soars-in-poorer-areas-20110710-1h91w.html#ixzz1TfuR4Bq1

Adele Horin, Playgroups give children early lesson in life, study shows, SMH 14 July 2011” ''We know children from disadvantaged families tend already to have fallen behind by the time they start school, and what this shows is that playgroup attendance is associated with closing the gap,'' lead researcher Kirsten Hancock, a senior analyst at the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, said. The study, involving a group of universities and children's research institutes, was based on an initial sample of 5107 babies, aged three to 19 months, drawn from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children, which tracks children over time. http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/lifematters/playgroups-give-children-early-lesson-in-life-study-shows-20110713-1he25.html#ixzz1Tw4cvU00

Adele Horin, Mothers pay in long run for maternity leave: SMH, 18 July 2011: “AUSTRALIAN women who take maternity leave pay a financial penalty, even three years after their return to work, new research has found. They receive a lower hourly pay rate than other female workers with no career break, even though both groups had previously been on the same hourly pay scale. http://m.smh.com.au/lifestyle/lifematters/mothers-pay-in-long-run-for-maternity-leave-20110717-1hkbc.html

Adele Horin, Damages demand in boarding house case, SMH 18 July 2011: “A DISABILITY advocacy group is demanding the NSW government pay damages of $15 million to residents of a licensed boarding house because of alleged discrimination by the NSW Police Force and another government department. In a discrimination complaint lodged with the Australian Human Rights Commission, the group People With Disability Australia claims the police force failed to properly investigate allegations of violence, exploitation, abuse and neglect of residents of the Grand Western Lodge boarding house in Millthorpe, near Orange.” http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/15m-bid-for-damages-in-boarding-house-case-20110717-1hk8l.html#ixzz1TgBwzsjB

Adele Horin, Under 50s moved out of nursing homes, SMH 21 July 2011: “MORE younger people have moved out of nursing homes and fewer have moved in as a result of a successful collaboration between the federal and state governments that has officially ended. New figures published today show the number of people under 50 who live in a residential aged care facility fell by 29 per cent over the fours years to June 2010. As well, the number admitted each year fell by 22 per cent. The report, published by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, shows the number of people under 50 in aged care facilities fell from 1007 in June 2006 to 715 in June last year. The residents have profound disabilities, most often acquired brain injury or neurological disorders.’ http://www.smh.com.au/national/under-50s-moved-out-of-nursing-homes-20110720-1hp0i.html#ixzz1TgW3NDgN

Leesha McKenny and Kelsey Munro, Hillsong takes case for all-hours church to higher authority, SMH 21 July 2011: ‘HILLSONG'S loss of faith in the City of Sydney has it heading to the Land and Environment Court. The Pentecostal megachurch is seeking the court's approval to spend $1 million converting an Alexandria warehouse into an auditorium-style church for 1100 people, but it could come up against a ban on places of public worship in industrial areas being proposed by the City. The development application, lodged with the council in January, proposes to transform part of Sydney Corporate Park on Doody Street into a ''place of public worship'' open 7am to 10.30pm, seven days a week.’ http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/hillsong-takes-case-for-allhours-church-to-higher-authority-20110720-1hoyr.html#ixzz1TgXCAGeS

Mathew Moore, A screaming success with children, but locals hate new park, SMH 30-31 July 2011: “This friction over how parks should be developed is flaring across Sydney as more families live in flats and want outdoor areas that offer children more than shrubs, trees and a place for quiet contemplation. http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/a-screaming-success-with-children-but-locals-hate-new-park-20110729-1i46o.html#ix

Mathew Moore, Parramatta’s $1.6b facelift ready to go, SMH 30-31 July 2011: “FOUR years after Parramatta City Council struck a deal to redevelop three hectares of land in the city's heart, the council has acquired the last few properties needed to allow the $1.6 billion project to begin.” http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/parramattas-16b-facelift-ready-to-go-20110729-1i46x.html#ixzz1Tll941WS

Saffron Howden, Kings of Cross take matters into own hands, SMH 1 August 2011: “THE most powerful club owners in Sydney's infamous late-night, red-light party hub are banding together in an unprecedented political alliance in a bid to control behaviour on the streets of Kings Cross. The main players are Christopher Cheung's C-Inc, Solotel, Keystone Hospitality, and John Ibrahim and his associates. But altogether about 70 venues have put up the cash to establish a united front in the face of growing political pressure to reduce alcohol-related violence and crime, including Sugarmill, The Bourbon, Hugo's Lounge, Trademark Hotel, Tunnel Nightclub, Bada Bing, Ms G's and the Kings Cross Hotel. http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/restaurants-and-bars/kings-of-the-cross-take-matters-into-own-hands-20110731-1i6i7.html#ixzz1TlnUUoNx

AAP, Sydney council opens late night trials, SMH 21 July 2011: http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-national/sydney-council-opens-late-night-trials-20110721-1hp9y.htmlWe want to encourage more late night options such as museums, cafes, galleries and retail stores," Lord Mayor Clover Moore said in a statement on Thursday. "Having more options - that do not revolve solely around alcohol - creates a safer and more balanced late night city."

Julie Robotham, More young women becoming cocaine users, SMH 27 July 2011: “YOUNG women's cocaine consumption has risen quickly in the past three years, according to federal government statistics that confirm the drug has achieved mainstream status among educated, high-earning city dwellers. The number of women in their 20s who reported they had used the drug within the past 12 months rose by 60 per cent in the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare's national drug use survey of more than 26,000 people, conducted last year and reported today, compared to the previous study in 2007.” http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/wellbeing/more-young-women-becoming-cocaine-users-20110726-1hymm.html#ixzz1TgfeoCrA
Overseas press

Jill Insley, Crunch forces extra 1.2m into renting, Guardian 7 July 2011:   ‘the number of people renting privately owned accommodation in England has increased by 55% in the past six years, reflecting the struggle faced by aspiring first-time buyers and the scarcity of social housing.

Polly Curtis, Ministers urged to lets schools and hospitals fail to hasten reforms,
 Guardian 11 July 2011: http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2011/jul/11/nhs-health ‘The documents obtained by the Guardian were prepared by civil servants as part of an internal government review into the consequences for democratic accountability of the coalition's localism, big society and outsourcing reforms that are integral to today's white paper.…The document also:
• Concludes there is a benefit in choice and competition in driving up standards, but that it works best where there are fixed prices in health for operations, or in education per pupil, otherwise there is a risk that companies will simply compete by undercutting each other. Drawing on evidence from the first major wave of privatisation in the 1990s, it says "providers will compete on price but quality may suffer".
• Highlights the potential for "market failures" in the public sector, saying some areas may not be appropriate. "In particular, it is worth noting that if the service is complex; time-critical; and used infrequently, (for instance accident and emergency services), it may be difficult for users to make an informed choice."• It warns that wealthier people may be better placed to exercise choice in which services they access, because they are more likely to be able to travel further for the school or hospital they want.’

Terry Macalister, One in five households in fuel poverty as energy prices soar, Guardian 15 July 2011: http://www.guardian.co.uk/money/2011/jul/14/households-fuel-poverty-energy-prices?INTCMP=SRCHThe Department of Energy and Climate Change statistics show 700,000 more UK families fell into fuel poverty in 2009, bringing the total to 5.5 million — one in five of all households. In the UK, fuel poverty is when a household needs to spend more than 10% of its income on fuel in order to heat its home to an adequate standard, and have hot water and run lights and appliances. The department admitted that 100,000 more families in England alone were expected to go into fuel poverty this year. The figures came less than a week after British Gas said its gas prices will rise by an average of 18% and electricity bills by 16%...The government has admitted that bills will have to rise additionally to pay for a major rebuilding of the UK's power networks.’

Sarah Boseley, Cancer diagnoses in 40-59 age group soar 20% in a generation, Guardian 18 July: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jul/18/cancer-diagnoses-in-middle-age Cancer diagnoses in middle-aged men and women have soared by nearly 20% in a generation as screening picks up more cases and smoking, drinking, obesity and unfitness continue to take a toll.’

Debbie Andalo, How to get ahead in housing, Opportunities abound as social landlords turn to apprenticeships across their organisations, Guardian 19 July 2011: http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2011/jul/19/how-to-get-ahead-in-housing ‘Housing associations have turned to apprenticeships as a way of growing their own staff after the abolition in May of the £1bn Future Jobs Fund (FJF), set up by the Labour government in 2009 to help create 150,000 new jobs, work experience or training. The bulk of the money was meant to create 100,000 job opportunities for unemployed 18- to 24-year-olds. A survey carried out last year by the National Housing Federation and the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) revealed that 71% of social landlords offered apprenticeships, with 58% established in construction skills. But now the focus is shifting, as social landlords realise that apprenticeships can be developed in every arm of their organisation.

Leon Kaye, Could cities’ problems be solved by urban acupuncture? Guardian 21 July 2011: http://www.guardian.co.uk/sustainable-business/urban-acupuncture-community-localised-renewal-projects ‘…the urban acupuncture approach treats cities like a living organism. Such micro-targeting, low-cost, democratic, and empowering tactics provide urban residents the much coveted green space that they desire without driving to a specific location. Although city politicians want to score points from the creation of enormous parks or even large building complexes that score a green certification, those projects often run over budget and even take away space that could benefit local communities in other ways. Furthermore, Southern noted that only a limited number of practitioners profit from large scale projects, while micro-targeted initiatives benefit more individual designers and architects.

Amelia Hill, Not the retiring kind, Guardian 22 July 2011: http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2011/jul/21/older-women-entrepreneurs…experts say flexibility – and employers' prejudice against hiring older workers – must be tackled if the economy is to survive the social revolution under way in British society. Changes in life expectancy mean that one in six people alive today will live until the age of 100. By 2030, the number of people over 50 will have increased to 27 million, or 40% of the total population. It is, says the Office of National Statistics, the most significant demographic trend affecting the size and composition of the labour force for at least the next 15 years.

Peter Allen, French café society rocked as students embrace British-style binge drinking, Observer, 24 July 2011: http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2011/jul/24/france-young-binge-drinkers-upset"A few years ago the French, let alone French women, would never have dreamed of using pint glasses, but times have changed," she said. "Many of us see our futures in Anglo-Saxon countries like Britain and America, because France is too old-fashioned….Research by INPES, the national institute for health education, suggests alcohol is responsible for 45,000 deaths in France every year – 23,000 for which it is directly responsible, and 22,000 indirectly. Campaigners pushing for the Lyon and La Rochelle-style bans to be extended point to the fact that half of all domestic violence in France, and a third of all custodial sentences, are attributed to alcohol.’

Robert Booth and John Vidal, Planning rules bonfire sparks green belt alert, Guardian 27 July 2011: http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2011/jul/26/planning-changes-green-belt-nppfLondon's green belt could be sacrificed to Los Angeles-style urban sprawl in the name of economic growth under sweeping reforms to the planning system unveiled by the government this week, the National Trust has warned. The 3.6 million-member organisation voiced "grave concerns" on Tuesday over government proposals to slash 1,000 pages of planning policy to just 52 pages in a move that has won the ringing endorsement of property developers. Opponents claim the new draft policy effectively removes the national target for recycling brownfield land and allows local communities to support building on the green belt. It is set to be the biggest change to the planning system in more than 60 years and scraps detailed planning guidance notes and circulars. Instead, the government insists there should be a presumption in favour of "sustainable development" to house a rising population.’

Angus Batey, Welcome to Royston…you’re under surveillance, Guardian 28 July 2011: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/jul/28/royston-under-surveillance-police-cameras ‘The seven cameras ringing Royston will record the numberplate of every vehicle that passes them, check the plate against a series of databases and send alerts to police if the vehicle is untaxed, uninsured, suspected of involvement in a crime, or appears on a local or national police "hotlist". The system – known as automatic numberplate recognition (ANPR) – has been in operation since the 1990s and, while relatively little-known, is controversial enough to have developed its own cliches. Proponents maintain that "innocent motorists have nothing to fear," while the anti-ANPR lobby routinely describes the cameras as "the biggest surveillance network that the public has never heard of".’

Simon Jenkins, This localism bill will sacrifice the countryside to market forces, Guardian 28 July 2011: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/jul/28/localism-bill-sacrifice-countryside-market ‘With parliament in recess the government this week sneaked out the most astonishing change to the face of England in half a century. A "national planning policy framework" replaces all previous regulation and encourages building wherever the market takes it, crucially in the two-thirds of rural England outside national parks, green belts and areas of outstanding natural beauty. Farms, forests, hills, valleys, estuaries and coasts will be at the mercy of a "presumption in favour of sustainable development". The "default response" to any planning application is to be "yes".

In the Land and Environment Court
Solotel Pty Limited v Woollahra Council [2011] NSWLEC 1210 http://www.caselaw.nsw.gov.au/action/PJUDG?jgmtid=153541 In this decision, likely social impacts and the precautionary principle are applied to the question of whether a hotel should be permitted to enlarge its premises and patron capacity.

Danny Dorling, So you think you know about Britain? Published by Constable and Robinson, London, 2011. The data is about Britain; there are wider messages about the perils of assumptions.

Martin Birley, Health Impact Assessment- Principles and Practice, published by Earthscan (part of the Taylor and Francis Group) 2011. ISBN 978-1-84971-277-4
A broad-based introductory text on health impact assessment. Includes a number of international case studies across a range of sectors.

Recent reports / papers
6202.0 Australia's unemployment rate steady at 4.9 per cent in June 2011 (Media Release),  

6202.0 Labour Force, Australia, June 2011

6342.0.80.002 1.1 million Queenslanders use some form of flexible working arrangements (Media Release), Oct 2010

4510.0 Recorded Crime – Victims, Australia, 2010: http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/4510.0

Vicki-Ann Ware and others, Locational disadvantage, a review of the international evidence, August 2010 http://www.ahuri.edu.au/publications/psyn044/ Includes a list of best practice principles as well as practices to avoid.
In July AHURI also published two final reports:
No. 171: A development model for housing regeneration in greyfield residential precincts, and  
No 170: Secure occupancy in rental housing: http://www.ahuri.edu.au/publications/recent.asp
The Australia Institute
David Baker, The wage-penalty effect: the hidden cost of maternity leave  https://www.tai.org.au/index.php?q=node%2F19&pubid=882&act=display ‘In the first year back at work, women can expect to earn around four per cent less per hour on average than they would if they had not had a child, the research shows; this equates to $1,566 a year in foregone wages per person. Mothers are losing about $126 million per year in foregone wages across the workforce as a result.

Australian Communications Consumer Action Network
Another Barrier? Regional consumer, non-profit organisations and the NBN in the Northern Rivers Region, 4 July 2011: http://accan.org.au/  ‘As Australia moves into the era of the digital economy and the National Broadband Network (NBN), not-for profits are increasingly finding themselves as brokers of phone and internet access for their clients who continue to struggle with the basics of availability, affordability, and accessibility of ICT.’

Australian Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA)
Belinda Hewitt and others, Men’s engagement in shared care and domestic work in Australia, Study by he Social Research Centre (SRC) with the Institute for Social Science and Research (ISSR) at the University of Queensland on behalf of the Office for Women in FaHCSIA July 2011: http://www.fahcsia.gov.au/sa/women/pubs/general/mens_engagement/Documents/report/default.htmArguably the most interesting findings of the survey results were the influence of flexible, or non-standard, work hours on men’s time on housework.  The results suggest that working night shifts or being able to take work home, was associated with increased time for men on housework. At the same time, if their partners spent long hours in paid work, worked weekends or had to travel away overnight for work, men reported increased housework time. These are important findings that suggest that time availability must be measured not just in terms of average hours per week, but also in terms of the characteristics of work hours. This finding was supported by observations from the qualitative component of the study.’

Australian Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities
National Rental Affordability Scheme Monthly Performance Report, June 2011: http://www.environment.gov.au/about/nras-reports/index.html Reports distribution of projects x state, dwelling type etc.

Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet
Niyi Awofeso,  Racism: a major impediment to optimal Indigenous health and health care in Australia,
Australian Indigenous Health Bulletin 11(3) July 2011: http://healthbulletin.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/bulletin_review_awofeso_2011.pdf ‘…racism constitutes a ‘double burden’ for Indigenous Australians, encumbering their health as well as access to effective and timely health care services.

Australian Institute of Criminology
Australian crime: Facts and figures 2010: http://www.aic.gov.au/en/publications/current%20series/facts/1-20/2010.aspx
‘an up-to-date snapshot of crime patterns and trends in Australia.’

Kelly Richards, Children’s exposure to domestic violence in Australia, Trends and issues in crime and criminal justice, June 2011: http://www.aic.gov.au/publications/current%20series/tandi/401-420/tandi419.aspxChildren's 'witnessing' or exposure to domestic violence has been increasingly recognised as a form of child abuse, both in Australia and internationally. Although it is difficult to accurately assess the scope of the problem, research has demonstrated that a substantial amount of domestic violence is witnessed by children. As this paper outlines, witnessing domestic violence can involve a range of incidents, ranging from the child 'only' hearing the violence, to the child being forced to participate in the violence or being used as part of a violent incident. In this paper, current knowledge about the extent of children's exposure to domestic violence in Australia is described, along with the documented impacts that this exposure can have on children.’

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
National outcome measures for early childhood development: development of indicator based reporting framework, 20 July 2011: http://www.aihw.gov.au/publication-detail/?id=10737419493  ‘20 potential indicators are recommended for reporting against the ECD Outcomes Framework in the ECD Strategy

Australian Treasury
Final Report on the Scoping Study for a National Not for Profit Regulator,  4 July 2011: http://www.treasury.gov.au/contentitem.asp?NavId=035&ContentID=2054
‘During the 2010 election campaign the Government outlined its commitment to reform Australia's NFP sector to deliver smarter regulation, reduce red tape and improve the transparency and accountability of the sector. The Government tasked Treasury with undertaking a scoping study to determine the role, functions, feasibility and design options for a 'one stop shop' NFP regulator. On 21 January 2011, the Government released a consultation paper on the design options for a national NFP regulator. The consultation paper discussed the features of a best practice regulatory framework and sought the views of stakeholders in relation the goals, scope, functions and form of a national regulator. The Final Report outlines the views put forward by stakeholders during consultation, provides analysis of the design options for a national NFP regulator and makes recommendations on the direction of reforms to strengthen the NFP sector.’

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
National opioid pharmacotherapy statistics collections: 2010 report: http://www.apo.org.au/node/25478On a snapshot day in 2010 there were 46,078 clients who received pharmacotherapy for opioid dependence, of which almost two in three were male. This was an overall increase of just over 2,600 clients since 2009. Between 2006 and 2010 the mean age group of clients receiving pharmacotherapy has increased.’

The Equality Trust
Hector Rufrancos Trends and measures of income inequality, Research Digest 2: http://www.equalitytrust.org.uk/resources/publications Some key points:UK income inequality increased by 32% between 1960 and 2005. During the same period, it increased by 23% in the USA, and in Sweden decreased by 12%. In the 1960s Sweden and the UK had similar levels of income inequality. By 2005 the gap between the two had increased by 14%.Since the 1980s income inequality in the United States and the UK has increased substantially and has returned to levels not seen since the 1920s. The growth in inequality in the last 30 years has been driven by the top 1% of wage incomes. Inequality measures drawn from standard household surveys underestimate income inequality by as much as 10 percentage points, due to the under–representation of the top 1% of incomes.’

Inside Story
Peter Whiteford, How fair is Australia’s welfare state? 7 July 2011  http://inside.org.au/how-fair-is-australia’s-welfare-state/ ‘…So it’s fair to say that we are a relatively low-taxing country compared to other rich nations, and to a significant extent this is because we have lower levels of welfare spending. But is this spending particularly egalitarian and are our taxes progressive?’

Anna Cristina Perterra, You’ve got to have friends, Review essay - what social media tells us about communication, 29 July 2011: http://inside.org.au/you’ve-got-to-have-friends/ ‘…“idioms of practice” – methods that particular groups or communities of people develop to communicate with one another – are variable across and within different communities, but many people seem to overlook the particularity of their own idioms, assuming instead that the medium has some inherent characteristic that determines the nature of the messages it carries.’

J Epidemiology and Community Health
Sonja M E van Dillen and others, Greenspace in urban neighbourhoods and residdets’ health: adding quality to quantity, 29 June 2011: http://jech.bmj.com/content/early/2011/06/29/jech.2009.104695.short?q=w_jech_ahead_tabConclusions The quantity and also the quality of greenspace in one's neighbourhood seem relevant with regard to health. Furthermore, streetscape greenery is at least as strongly related to self-reported health as green areas.’

Lovisa Högberg and others, Intergenerational social mobility and the risk of hypertension, 11 July 2011: http://jech.bmj.com/content/early/2011/06/15/jech.2010.130567.short?q=w_jech_ahead_tab  Conclusions These findings suggest that the risk of hypertension associated with low parental social status can be modified by social status later in life. Possibly, this could be targeted by public health or political interventions. As parental social status has an impact on later health, such interventions should be introduced early.

Steven Allender and others, Relative deprivation between neighbouring wards is predictive of coronary heart disease mortality after adjustment for absolute deprivation of wards, 28 June 2011: http://jech.bmj.com/content/early/2011/06/28/jech.2010.116723.short?q=w_jech_ahead_tab    Conclusions Rich wards surrounded by poor areas have higher CHD mortality rates than rich wards surrounded by rich areas, and poor wards surrounded by rich areas have worse CHD mortality rates than poor wards surrounded by poor areas. Local deprivation inequality has a similar adverse impact on both rich and poor areas, supporting the hypothesis that income inequality of an area has an impact on individual-level health outcomes.’

Cara L Booker and Amanda Sacker, Psychological well-being and reactions to multiple unemployment events; adaptation or sensitization? 20 June 2011: http://jech.bmj.com/content/early/2011/06/04/jech.2010.126755.short?q=w_jech_ahead_tab   Conclusions The findings suggest that initially employed people who experience repeated unemployment cope better psychologically if they are able to regain employment in between unemployment spells. Those who make several attempts to re-enter the labour market following economic inactivity have a more difficult time, becoming more distressed with each try. This has implications for people affected by welfare to work policies.

Stefan Fors, Socioeconomic inequalities in circulatory all-cause mortality after retirement: the impact of mid life income and old age pension. Evidence from the Uppsala Birth Cohort Study, June 2011: http://jech.bmj.com/content/early/2011/06/07/jech.2010.131177.short?q=w_jech_ahead_tabConclusions It is unlikely that egalitarian social policies aimed at older populations can eradicate health inequalities accumulated over the life course. However, retirement income appears to have an effect on late-life mortality that is independent of the effect of income in mid-life, suggesting that egalitarian pension schemes could affect health inequalities in later life or, at the very least, slow down further accumulation of inequalities..’

Joseph Rowntree Foundation
Minimum income standard for the UK in 2011: http://www.jrf.org.uk/publications/minimum-income-standard-uk-2011  ‘This report is JRF's annual update of the 'minimum income standard', based on what members of the public think people need to achieve a socially acceptable standard of living.

Murray Darling Basin Authority
Community impacts of the guide to the proposed Murray-Darling Basin Plan:  http://www.mdba.gov.au/media_centre/media_releases/Socio-economic-report-on-the-Guide-released Among its conclusions are: ‘any change to irrigated agriculture would not be applied equally across the Basin as a whole. It would be concentrated in certain towns and locations where the reduction represents a higher percentage of local economic activity and employment. There is therefore a strong distributional effect. The community impact assessment indicated that the effects may be particularly profound in smaller and more irrigation dependent communities.’ [summary p 7]
The report says, ‘This report does not fully address the impacts of the Guide proposals on Indigenous people in the Murray-Darling Basin. This is because addressing such issues was outside the terms and timeframe of the project brief. To fully address the perspectives of the many Indigenous Nations and communities of the Basin would require the development of a specific program designed and implemented by Aboriginal people.’ [p97]. The sole reference to women in the Community Impacts section of the report says [p78] ‘There is also evidence of women becoming isolated as the husband becomes depressed and withdrawn, or has to travel away from the community to find work, e.g. in the mines. This can also leave mothers to bring up families on their own, which was reported in some towns as leading to anti-social behaviour amongst boys and young men.’  There is no reference to women in the regional analysis for NSW.

National Drug Research Institute (NDRI) Curtin University
Wendy Loxley and others, National Alcohol Sales Data Project, Final Report 2009
http://ndri.curtin.edu.au/local/docs/pdf/publications/R249.pdfIn every jurisdiction, estimated pcc [per capita consumption] exceeded estimates made by the ABS for the nation as a whole. While this is most likely a reflection of actual higher levels of consumption in those jurisdictions, part of the difference may be due to the fact that the ABS estimates rely on excise tax records and customs duty data collected at a national level. Currently, it is not possible to know whether pcc estimates for the Northern Territory, Queensland and Western Australia are higher or lower than the remaining five jurisdictions for which alcohol sales remain unknown.

National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling
AMP-NATSEM report 29: The Great Australian Dream – Just a Dream? 28 July 2011
Australian house prices have moved from being affordable to severely unaffordable in the last 10 years and it will take at least another 10 years of flat house prices coupled with income growth for houses to regain an affordable status. This is the key finding of the AMP.NATSEM Income and Wealth Report: The Great Australian Dream – Just a Dream? which examines housing affordability in Australia using two measures: housing stress, based on the proportion of income spent on housing costs like mortgage and rent; and the house price to household income ratio – the higher the ratio, the less affordable the housing. The report found median house prices grew 147 per cent to $417,000 while median after-tax incomes only increased 50 per cent to $57,000 from 2001 to 2011, pushing the price to income ratio from an affordable 4.7 to a severely unaffordable 7.3 today. In 2001, more than 50 per cent of all suburbs in Australia’s five major capital cities were affordable but today only four per cent are affordable and not one of these affordable suburbs is in inner city areas.’ http://www.canberra.edu.au/centres/natsem/

AMP-NATSEM report 28: Little Australians April 2011 ‘Four to five year old Australian children that are read to frequently, are in financially stable families, safe neighbourhoods, live in the city, and are female, perform better than their peers when it comes to their development, according to the latest AMP.NATSEM Income and Wealth Report. The latest AMP.NATSEM Income and Wealth Report: Little Australians uses data from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children to measure difference in the development of Australian children aged four to five in three different domains: physical health; social and emotional functioning; and learning and cognitive development and also provides an overall development measure which incorporates all three domains.

National Seniors Australia
The ageing experience of Australians from migrant backgrounds:  http://www.nationalseniors.com.au/page/Driving_Change/Research/Australia, as is widely known, has an ageing population and is also a country built on immigration. However, it is less well known that the immigrant population has an older age structure than the Australian-born population.

NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics
Jacqueline Fitzgerald and Suzanne Poynton, The changing nature of objects stolen in household burglaries, 6 July 2011: http://www.bocsar.nsw.gov.au/lawlink/bocsar/ll_bocsar.nsf/pages/bocsar_mr_bb62
Results: The number of recorded household burglaries in NSW has fallen by 50 per cent since 2001 and the pattern of objects stolen has changed. The theft of cash increased from 23 per cent of all home burglaries in 2001 to 31 per cent of all burglaries in 2010. The relative frequency with which a wallet/handbag/purse, keys or laptop computer were stolen in burglaries also increased over the 10 year period examined. There have been falls in the proportion of burglaries involving the theft of video and DVD players, stereos, video cameras, electrical appliances, power tools and powered garden equipment. In both 2001 and 2010 jewellery was stolen in around 1 in 5 burglaries. Conclusion: The market for stolen goods has changed considerably over the last 10 years with a shift toward cash and other easily disposed of items.’

NSW Parliamentary Library Research Service
Louise O’Flynn, Social Housing, e-brief 8/2011, July
http://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/prod/parlment/publications.nsf/key/SocialHousing/$File/Social+housing+e-brief.pdf  Useful summary of recent history of social housing in NSW

Parliamentary Library, Parliament of Australia
Janet Phillips, Asylum seekers and refugees: what are the facts? Background note: http://www.aph.gov.au/library/pubs/bn/sp/AsylumFacts.pdfThe purpose of this background note is to present information (in a simplified format) that may help address some of the popular misconceptions that surround asylum issues. It includes information on asylum claims, unauthorised arrivals and irregular migration in Australia and Europe.’

The Poverty Site
http://www.poverty.org.uk/ Useful site if you are searching for indicators of social exclusion, UK regional reports, trend data etc.

this big city - Can underground water cool city houses?, 30 June 2011: http://thisbigcity.net/can-underground-water-cool-city-houses/ Water as infrastructure ‘We don’t often think about what’s under our feet when walking around in the middle of a city, but in the centre of Stockholm there are actually several aquifers – large underground layers of water-bearing rock or gravel – that can be of great use. Since water has an ability to store heat or cold, these aquifers work a bit like a thermos. The idea, more or less, is to pump up cold water in the summer to cool buildings above ground. This makes the water temperature rise a small amount. This water is then pumped back down into the ground and stored until next winter, when it can be used for heating buildings. In total, this process generates about three or four times as much energy than what is required for pumping the water up and down.

Urban Omibus
Michael Chen, Signal Space,  6 July 2011: http://urbanomnibus.net/2011/07/signal-space/ However, given that a 35-fold increase in wireless traffic is expected over the next five years, mobile providers constantly add antennas to their networks. While a single base station might have a range measured in miles in an unobstructed environment, in an urban setting installations are often separated by only a few hundred feet. Rapidly increasing demand will mean that base stations, which today are almost exclusively located semi-stealthily on mid-rise building rooftops, will not only become denser, but will likely migrate into interiors, streets and other public spaces.’

Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment, and others
Evaluation Toolbox,  created by ART9th: http://www.evaluationtoolbox.net.au/The toolbox aims to provide a one-stop-site for the evaluation of community sustainability engagement projects that aim to change household behaviours. The toolbox brings together a number of best-practice evaluation methods packaged into a comprehensive, user-friendly, how-to format.

Workshops, seminars and short courses
AIUS, NSW: Talk and discussion
Dr Nathaniel Bavington will speak on Putting culture into policy for the city at night
Mechanics’ School of Arts, 280 Pitt St Sydney, Thursday 11 August, 5.00 – 6.15 pm www.aius-nsw.org Dr Bavington is an urban sociologist and cultural researcher and is currently social and community planner at the City of Maitland.

Western Sydney Community Forum
Stronger Voice for Western Sydney is excited to announce a one day seminar designed to develop three core skill sets required for more effective community sector advocacy.

Leading from the West, turning community issues into government policy, 10 August 2011, Blacktown Council, 9-3.0 pm : http://www.wscf.org.au/uploads/Leading%20from%20the%20West%20Flyer.pdf

Improving housing affordability through tax reform: Australia and the UK in comparison. As part of AHURI's commitment to international collaborative research, this event is being organised in partnership with the Joseph Rowntree Foundation to compare and contrast the case for tax reform to drive housing affordability in Australia and the UK. The central role of unstable housing markets in the global financial crisis has led to considerable scrutiny of contemporary housing policies. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation (UK) and AHURI (Australia) will report on parallel research examining the social sustainability of our relative housing systems with particular focus on the case for tax reform to improve these outcomes. Cost $140 ($105),Thursday 15 September, 8.45-12.15 pm, AGL Theatre, Museum of Sydney, cnr Bridge and Phillip Sts. rsvp 14 Sept: Details on ahuri website: http://www.ahuri.edu.au/

Urban Research Centre, UWS
Planning for Non Planners 1 day course: Oct 31
Social Impact Assessment 2 day course: Oct 17,18
Social Impact Assessment Advanced: 2 day course: Nov 7, 8
Developing Sustainable Places 4 day course: August 4, 5, 18, 19
Financing Cities in the Global Economy 4 day course: Sept 8, 9, 22, 23
Planning and Environmental Regulation 4 day course: Oct 13, 14 and 27, 28

The social planning Alert! is prepared by Alison Ziller with assistance from Elizabeth Delaney. To subscribe/unsubscribe email aziller@bigpond.net.au