EMBASSY REPORT

    Recent developments from Unemployed Peoples Embassy.

For membership details send a stamped SAE to the Embassy at
PO Box A360 Sydney South 2000. Phone number in phone book.Contact for details of meetings and workshops.


AAF ON AGAIN

Check our Alternative Arts Festival page for more details of the 2004 events in November and December. We are waiting for news of any grant from Sydney City Council (due in late September). Meanwhile we are booking venues and seeking people to help us with the publicity and actual operations during the Festival. Contact the Unemployed Peoples Embassy in Sydney (number in phone book). Leichhardt Council also may assist us further according to a letter they sent us this year.

WEBSITE IS GO !

At last we got access to a good computer in (July 2004) and now don't have to go to an internet cafe just to update the webpages. We are now starting to sort out stuff that is on the website and we (think) Telstra is putting our web address in its listing for the Embassy phone number.

GRANTS;  good news and bad news since 1998

The Embassy received its second grant from Leichhardt Council (LC) for its Alternative Arts Festival.  The first grant of $500 was received in 1998 - and was stretched out for three years. We didn't start to reapply for funds until we felt we had really established the Festival as an ongoing yearly event (after incorporating our annual Poetry Picnic – operating since 1990). We originally applied for rather more than the $500 we got and in fact have subsidised the Festival from our own meagre funds rather than reapply for funding too soon (particularly given that there didn't even seem to be any further funding process available at LC at one stage ie  the Council didn't seem to issue grants any in 2001. We then had to fund the Festival again ourselves, since the original $500 had well and truly gone . 

We  received $250 for the 2002 Festival from Leichhardt Council. We expected this would all be spent on this year's Festival - so we will be applying for more next year. We were also contacted by South Sydney Council with some indication that we might receive some funding for our Odd Job Centre - possibly the full $5000 applied for. That was needed to rent minimal premises for up to a year. There we hoped to operate other projects - such as our Workshop In Theatre Actor Resources (WITAR)- which we did (at least with short play rehearsals) at our last Odd Job Centre site in King St Newtown/St Peters. We applied for funding for this from both Councils. Unfortunately in 2003 we received no funding from either Council for our Odd Job Centre grant applications but we got $250 from Leichhardt Council for our WITAR project (which due our lack of success of getting cheap rate rehearsal space from the Council – will commence in 2004 on a different basis).

In July 2004 we wrote to Leichhardt Council regarding its letter suggesting it might be possible for the Council itself to vote us recurring funding for our annual AAF. We also applied to Sydney City Council for funding (after it gave us some free access to Glebe Town hall for rehearsals for our short original play in the AAF in 2003 due to lobbying by its them Manager). That same letter is going to SCC too.

We had hoped  also to find some matching funding and donations to help pay for phone and possible internet installation. Clover Moore MP wrote on our behalf to the NSW Labor Government in 1999, asking for funding from them – but with no result. We were getting access to a laptop computer for basic word processing, but that needs repairing again. A jobless member bore the cost of previous repairs to it. The Embassy hopes to buy its own pentium computer on which the Microsoft Frontpage program that this website is written can be installed.  Any donations towards the $270 cost of the reconditioned computer would be appreciated. We have a Society cheque account - being a registered non profit organisation. We now have access to quite a good desktop computer upon which we are able to update our webpages. Previously we had to go to iternet cafes to do this. Now we only have to go there to upload the amended website onto the internet. Next we need to get is access to a scanner and digital still camera to really start perking up our website.



BACKGROUND

Meanwhile - the NSW Government is promising to splash around money in the Redfern/Waterloo area to try and solve the crime and drug problems there (supposedly by helping out the communities there). The lead agency was the South Sydney Council – now amalgamated into Sydney City Council. Until we couldn't afford the greatly (and suddenly) increasing rent in 1998 - the Embassy was operating its Odd Job Centre at two locations on King St Newtown  for over ten years  (the first being on the now Sydney City Council side of the road). We have written to the Deputy Premier (and then Housing Minister) Andrew Reshauge with suggestions about improving the area (see Save Our Sydney webpage - about our proposal to expand Redfern Park and include a public swimming pool in rebuilding of adjacent public housing along Elizabeth St). Perhaps we will try writing to him about getting a NSW Govt grant for our projects - such as the Odd Job Centre.  We also want to lobby Federal political parties too.

We applied to Sydney City Council and Leichhardt Councils again in 2004 for the  projects - but we will also start looking around at other Council areas and funding possibilities. So far we only have a on off grant of $250 from LC for WITAR – but no discount fee access to reheasal/workshop spaces – despite raising this issue in our original grant aplication to them. The point is that the OJC and WITAR projects have already proven their worth and really only need some public premises and hopefully some donations for basic expenses - to really get operating again. Unfortunately - the only real possibility of "submission based" funding is local Government and private donations - that is in relation to Australian sources. The OJC really needs about $20,000 a year to operate without too much anxiety (ie to include a part time co-ordinator). We will prepare the budget required for possible funders to see.     

At the last (shopfront) site of the Odd Job Centre in Newtown's King St - near St Peters station - we did full rehearsals for an original short (local) play we put on at a Short Theatre Festival at Bondi Pavilion Theatre in 1995. This was under our WITAR project. We were even able to "block" it ( ie work out how to do it in a "stage" size space) since we had access to the roof courtyard in the same building. A new Odd Job Centre would allow us to at least do basic "table" readings of new short plays, as part of our ongoing WITAR project. The OJC has a number of other projects - some income generating. WITAR needs to generate income in order to contribute to the running costs of the OJC - which it uses. 

However a grant from South Sydney Council (now part of Sydney City Council) would have allowed WITAR to contribute to the running expenses of the Odd Job Centre - as well as to have even allowed us to rent actual theatre space to perform new (local)  works as well as get some basic theatre lighting and essential props. We hope to cover performance advertising costs out of charging for entry by donations - and also for acting workshops we run. We will also be making WITAR Videos of our works to help promote further performances of them. Access to Digital Editing equipment would help here.  

Leichhardt Council couldn't manage to properly reject our $1000 grant application for our Odd Job Centre, by actually saying it was rejecting us for a grant for that actual project. They just said it was for an "office". Maybe in the end it might be private sources of donations hat prove to be far bigger than the ones we got a year or so ago. It would be ironic that after over 30 years of struggle (since the Arts Cop-op project in Surry Hills in 1973) that in five more years we could really get started again even if the State and Federal governments are as slow to chip in as usual. Meanwhile we are looking at a country project based on our 1982 program in western Sydney ( with DoH housing stock) called the “Arts Farm”. We might manage it set up a new web page for it under a group housing title – whn we work out more about working this system.

OJC HISTORY  - see ODD JOB CENTRE page  

FUNDING PUSH IN 2002:   background

After receiving a small donation in 1998 from a Community Funding application
to Leichhardt Council, for our Alternative Arts Festival (AAF), which we stretched out for three years - we applied again after a fourth year of the Festival. That time it wa also for donations for our Workshop In Theatre Actor Resources (WITAR) project and the Odd Job Centre (OJC) - as well as again for the AAF. (We got the $250 grant fo WITAR). We have also managed to get in an application to South Sydney Council for the latter long time (OJC) project - which allows a far higher amount to be applied for (ie $5000). We have also applied for $5000 for our WITAR project too. Local Councils are the last level of Government that at least consider funding unincorporated associations . They can even recognise the unemployed as a distinct disadvantaged category in society - whereas in State and Federal government funding "youth" is about the closest category. 

State and Federal governments have women, disabled people, migrants and youth as disadvantaged groups who deserve specific organisations and projects to be funded but not the unemployed. The political parties refuse to recognise that unemployment is now a permanent part of the economy - since no government will raise taxes on the rich and rich corporations to fund serious levels of job creation. This also means that vital social programs to maintain a decent standard of living for the jobless are also not funded. Our Community Housing scheme started twenty years ago with NSW Dept of Housing rental stock (including a mini farm for our Arts Farm project) was rejected for funding by the Federal government on the grounds that there was no funding category to cover it.. We are now trying to make contacts with various Federal government funding programs - and may even find some NSW State government ones as its next election approaches.

We are now looking at trying to get funding a regional project - following various excursions to the area. 

REAL POLICIES FOR JOBLESS

We now propose to develop policy positions on jobless welfare which we will put to the alternative parties, (such as Democrats and Greens) who are in a position to embarrass the "old parties" into modifying their outdated "policies". Australia has much lower welfare payments than the average European country - and its ranking on the OECD list of advanced economies must be pretty low - but it still requires the jobless to woork for that less than poverty level amount. We conducted a small survey some time ago that suggested that the jobless were prepared to work for an unemployment allowance - provided it was sufficient to live on.

Our view is that any "activity test" on the present low level of dole must be far more liberal and less prescriptive than it is. It Should not revolve around only allowing activity by jobless in strictly approved activities for the Governments conservative (but secret criteria) list of approved organisations. Any such compulsory activity for often big religious organisations - must involve three or four full times days a week at award wages. Casual (paid) work should therefore also be encouraged - rather than discouraged with a far higher income test than other allowances (such as with pensions). 

We are constantly amazed at the lack of interest on this issue from well resourced tertiary student associations - though students have long enjoyed the possibility of earning far more than the jobless before their student allowance is reduced. Meanwhile the UK Blair government is greatly reducing the period of time (and hours per week) that non professional twenty something tourists can get on Work Visas. Will the Howard government similarly decrease the penetration of UK and other "working holiday" ex tertiary students into Australia for the same reason as Blair (ie to allow more employment by local citizens). 

The one only time the Howard government threatened to create a "Common" Youth Allowance - where students could only earn $30 a week like the jobless (before their allowance is reduced) the tertiary students association  ran a demo that blocked the streets in Sydney. That riot seemed to help force a backdown on the Youth Allowance - that is no longer "common" to both jobless and students. The tertiary student allowance, by the way, is not defined as a serious social security payment - but a sort of token donation that expects that it will be supplements by the students" (well off) parents. Given that the dole not much more than that donation, the fact that jobless are reduced to having to rely on it - should exempt them from any strict prescriptive "activity test" - or for that matter tough sentences for being caught shoplifting for food (not that we advise such survival tactics).

In short - the government must either legislate to share around the existing work so more people can be employed (see information on excessive overtime below)  or impose a Jobs Levy on the rich to spend on subsiding jobs for the jobless. Perhaps both are required in the short term to start decreasing the increasing inequality in this society between the rich getting more rich and more becoming poor through lack of adequate hours of work (if any).   

 

NEW MEMBERS ARE NEEDED TO HELP RUN OUR HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGN AND SELF HELP GROUP PROJECTS.    

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              Now for a trip to the “recent” past :                  

ARCHIVE - 2001 - our election campaign :

ELECTION LETTER  5/10:  faxed to main papers

It is obvious to us that no party or candidate in this election has any real policies to help the unemployed. The Labor party only wants to recycle its old policies of compulsory training-for-the-dole which had a "training wage" just $50 a week more than the dole and simply got the long time jobless off the dole long enough so they were counted as "new" jobless when they went back on the dole. This "New Work Opportunity Scheme" amounted to a forerunner to Howard's useless slave-for-the-dole regime.

Beazley reviving wage subsidies (ie giving the dole to employers to temporarily take on the jobless) is now less likely to work with one in four full time employees doing more unpaid overtime than even in the US or UK. Over the past eight years over 550,000 jobs would have been created if working hours had been capped and new people employed to share the work. Wage subsidies are unlikely to work unless work sharing is legislated for and existing employees given back their lives, robbed by forced increases in their working hours (for little if any extra pay). European countries are already creating new jobs this way.

The jobless are becoming increasingly angry at being exploited by so-called community organisations who force them to do arduous menial work for many hours longer than would pay for their meagre dole.  In addition the dole is even lower than the pension and inner city rents are increasing more and more as house prices skyrocket and UK and US backpackers - often working illegally (with expired work vias)- take over former boarding houses and share terraces. Meanwhile the jobless are cut off the dole completely for six months if they try to move to cheaper accommodation in the country.  Living in new housing built in public transport starved outer suburbs is impossible without access to a car.

We are certainly not surprised how harshly both parties treat refugees from the same countries Australia has waged war against.  The jobless in Australia have long been treated like refugees in their own country.  We urge all concerned citizens to protest at the disgusting forced voting system we have in this country and give the oligopoly parties, and the diletante minnow parties that feed off them, a shock.  They have no mandate to govern when at least a third of votes are cast by people who didn't want to vote for them.  Let people in nursing homes and those who take no interest in politics at all - have the option not to vote.

Many others don't want to vote because they are interested in politics but see no relevant new policies being offered beyond those aimed at the hip pocket nerve of short attention span voters in marginal electorates.  Democracy empowers minorities by making politicians earn their vote.  Compulsory voting enslaves them.    (emphasis added and slight corrections added since first issued)

 

HIGHER EDUCATION REVIEW Inquiry submission

The Embassy has long been concerned about the direction of the school system in terms of gender bias against males - but the Higher Education system has mannaged to compound the problem with ageism (on top of the general sexism in the education system). Our submission to the Higher Education Inquiry in the Federal Parliament, also criticised the  class bias in the system - manifested in the apparent shambles that the underfunded University of Western Sydney has been allowed to become.

We now urge full time students to apply for membership (associate) of the Embassy - given that their tertiary education no longer ensures them full time employment and their own "student associations" seem more interested in the situation of academics (who already have their own union) than in that of its funders and nominal electors (the students). extracts of this submission will appear on our Research Library site when the Parliament says we are allowed to do so. Then the full report will also become available through that site.

 

LAST FEDERAL ELECTION POLICIES  do jobless matter?

Since neither of the Government oligopoly (ie "major" LibLab parties) seem interested in making laws that would actually reduce the level of unemployment (by increasing access to full time employment), it is useful to have organisations like ours pushing viable policies to the corporate and alternative media. Both macro and micro policy solutions are important - including the European measure of legislating for a cap on overtime and a reduction in full time hours (to 35 hours in France for instance).

We have long advocated "micro" policies like the Earnings Credit Scheme on the dole - that the Howard Govt cancelled as soon as it got into office - only to promise recently to reinstate if re-elected for a 2002 Budget. We tried to counter the Keating Govt's tendency towards introducing a forerunner to the work-for-dole program - but proposing a Volunteer Voucher system - where jobless on the dole could do work at similar rates of "pay" to ordinary work for community organisations - but where those organisations would fill in a fortnightly Volunteer Voucher to be handed in with the dole form .

This would cause the dole to be topped up by them earning the amount that the jobless are allowed to earn before they dole starts to be reduced. Hopefully that would be restored to at least the $90 a fortnight (income free area) that the Keating Govt had it for awhile. That would amount to say 9 hours work at, at least, $10 an hour - which community organisations could receive from the jobless. Many such organisations are understaffed as well as underfunded - and would really appreciate the extra help. Of course the jobless would also appreciate the extra money - as well as the extra time to look for work (that doing 30 hours of pointless activity a fortnight under train/work-for-dole greatly limits). They then might feel more inclined to to do some truly voluntary work for other worthwhile organisations that receive little or no government or private funding (such as ours for instance). 

   

OUR LAST FEDERALELECTION POSTER:

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    JUSTICE for JOBLESS

 

                #   JOBS NOT DOLE FINES

                    #   JOBS NOT DOLE-FOR-WORK

 

                #    PUBLIC HOUSING  NOW

 

                #     JOBLESS ALLOWED TO EARN

                       AS MUCH AS STUDENTS (before

                       their allowance is affected). 

 

      MEETINGS -    ST PETERS TOWN HALLL*

  

 

 

  

          Details    0418289469  (weekdays)                *hall use applied for

    visit EMBASSY REPORT @ oocities.com/unemployedembassy

 

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