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Brotherhood of St Laurence - Working for an Australia free of poverty Brotherhood Update - Research and policy update from the Brotherhood of St Laurence

August 2020

This year has been dominated by the policy implications of the COVID-19 pandemic, some of them explored in this issue of Brotherhood Update.

Yet in many ways the crisis has brought into sharp relief existing inequalities in our society, and weaknesses in complex systems.

Our research and policy efforts remain focused on pursuing systemic change for a fairer, more compassionate and just society.

Please share Brotherhood Update with your colleagues and encourage them to subscribe.

INSIGHT COVID-19 and children out of home


Each year, thousands of children and young people leave home or go missing from out-of-home care. Yet programs that identify and help children at risk are patchy and under-funded. COVID-19 is adding to the problem: more children are likely to fall through the gaps between specialist homelessness services and child and family services.

The latest COVID-19 Insight proposes a new collaborative approach to provide the all-round care and support that these children and young people need to thrive.

Read Children and young people on the edge of care, out of home and alone (PDF, 341 KB)  by Danielle Thornton, David Politanski, Joseph Borlagdan and Shelley Mallett

Read other COVID-19 Insights

REPORT Uncovering the impact of COVID-19 on low-income mature-age Australians

mature age woman looking through binoculars

The crisis may be easing, but for mature-age, low-income Australians the consequences are likely to persist. The Brotherhood of St Laurence and Nous Group analysed the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic public health response on low-income earners aged 50 to 65. Not yet eligible for the pension or aged care, many are too old to gain new jobs but too young to retire.

Read the report by Amber Mills, Suyin Ng, James Finnis, Kate Grutzner and Bhairavi Raman, Hidden in plain sight: the impact of the COVID-19 response on mature-age low-income people in Australia (PDF, 605 KB)

This received coverage by Daniel Hurst and Paul Karp, COVID-19 recession causing job losses in older workers and housing stress in the young, in the Guardian.

Listen to BSL Executive Director Conny Lenneberg in a talkback discussion about Older workers during COVID-19 on Radio National Life Matters

ARTICLE Towards longer, healthier working lives for personal care workers in aged care

Hands of worker and older person using tablet computer

Australia’s ageing population is driving both longer working lives and growth in the aged care sector. These trends will directly affect personal carers and other 'pink-collar' workers (feminised roles requiring below-tertiary qualifications). BSL researchers looked to the public health literature to see which job characteristics might enable longer and healthier work-spans among this cohort.

Aaron Hart, Dina Bowman and Shelley Mallett, Extending the working lives of older personal care workers in the aged care sector, Australian Nursing and Midwifery Journal, vol. 26, no. 11, Jul–Sep 2020, pp. 36–39

POLICY Meeting key challenges to improving skills development in Victoria

Bolted coloured metal framework

While acknowledging the Victorian Government’s commitment to reviving the state’s vocational training system, we have called for significant reforms to overcome challenges facing learners and their families, providers and industry.

Read our Submission re Skills for Victoria’s Growing Economy (Macklin Review) (PDF, 484 KB)

POLICY A vocational education system based on equity

Massive crane photographed against blue sky

The Productivity Commission’s interim report on the next National Agreement on Skills and Workforce Development falls short of ensuring a vocational education system that will deliver quality outcomes for all.

We have put forward an alternative vision for an equitable system. It would be stewarded by government and adaptable for community needs, different career stages and the changing world of work.

Read our response to the Interim Report of the Productivity Commission Review of the National Agreement for Skills and Workforce Development

ARTICLE Thinking outside the box in aged care, prompted by COVID-19

Older man's hands gripping walking frame

Rapid adjustments in its approach to home and community care have enabled the Brotherhood’s Aged Care division to continue to serve vulnerable people in spite of COVID-19 challenges.  Researchers Amber Mills and James Finnis consulted with case managers and senior progam managers soon after the first lockdown to write about the response.

Read their article, It takes a pandemic to think outside the box, in Aged Care Insite.

Acting locally to tackle youth unemployment

Local, community-driven responses supported by government are essential to overcome youth unemployment. Sally James, BSL principal advisor to youth services, highlighted our experience when interviewed recently.

Read the article by Kate Benson, Local is best when it comes to addressing unemployment, in the Canberra Times.

In case you missed it ...

Lighted sparkler

Young Australians face added challenges finding employment pathways in the wake of COVID-19. Lessons from our evaluation of the Transition to Work Community of Practice are more important than ever.

Read the reports by Sharon Bond and Deborah Keys:

Research summary  (PDF, 1.1 MB)

Full report (PDF, 5.5 MB)