Improving food security for Indigenous Australians in remote areas

Madeline attended the 71st World Health Assembly in Geneva in 2018. She is currently studying a Bachelor of Medicine and a Bachelor of Surgery at Curtin University.

Abstract

Inadequate food security is a significant contributing factor in poor health-related outcomes for Indigenous Australians living in remote areas within Australia. In order to alleviate this issue, two recommendations are proposed.  The first offers a solution to the issues of cost and supply of fresh fruit and vegetables through the establishment of a body of hydroponic greenhouses in remote Australia. The second deals with issues of demand for fresh fruit and vegetables by providing a comprehensive education program on healthy eating. Together, these recommendations aim to empower Indigenous Australians living in remote areas to make healthy food choices and ultimately, decrease the rate of diet-related Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) in this population. 

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Fostering inclusive growth through the Job Guarantee

Sean attended the 2018 OECD Forum in Paris. He is currently studying Undergraduate Studies in International Studies and Japanese at Curtin University.

Abstract

A key issue raised at the 2018 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD, 2018) forum was the need for nations to design solutions for inclusive growth “through studies and data surrounding better education, employment, healthcare and housing, making sure that growth is truly inclusive” (OECD, 2018). The inclusive growth program at the OECD has analysed the myriad sources for global inequality and has determined that, while acknowledging there is much room for future research, solutions lay with national governments (OECD, 2017, p. 5). The ‘Bridging the Gap’ publication argues for a re-orientation of welfare toward lifelong platforms that ensure a variety of outcomes for citizens, including job support, health, wellbeing, and foundations for future learning (OECD, 2017, p. 5).

A national Job Guarantee program is a comprehensive and universal replacement for welfare that is funded and directed by national governments. The foundation of a Job Guarantee program is guaranteed work for a guaranteed annual income set by the government. The Job Guarantee is a radical and necessary re-orientation of welfare addressing key issues outlined by the OECD. Only the government is in the position to address this and, as such, this policy paper seeks to explore the Job Guarantee program as a key policy recommendation to achieve inclusive growth.

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‘Funding Social Enterprises in Australia and narrowing the knowledge gap - Improving Social Impact Measurement and Social Impact Bonds’

Zoe attended the 2018 OECD Forum in Paris. She is currently studying a Bachelor of International and Global Studies at the University of Sydney Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences and in the near future will be working in Indonesia with the Empowering Indonesian Women for Poverty Reduction Program.

Overview

In order to foster prosperity and fight poverty through economic growth and financial stability, communities need to have confidence in markets and institutions. It is imperative to stress that this growth must be both sustainable and inclusive in order to recreate this sense of security. A relatively new and innovative solution are social enterprises. These are organisations that run like a business, although they have goals and values equal to those of a charity. Social enterprises generate creative solutions to complex social issues, and are, more often than not, driven by the local community. Community-driven change is imperative, and by empowering individuals and local communities to take initiative to create businesses it will lead to greater social reform and recreate confidence in the market.

Although they are a relatively new concept in Australia, the community is rapidly expanding. With this expected growth comes an increase in opportunity for the Australian government to utilize this innovation to achieve the most effective and sustainable social outcomes. Social impact bonds are also growing in popularity around the world, especially in countries where much of welfare is privatised for example the UK and US. There is an increasing body of research that is investigating effective ways of measuring social impact, however, they are not necessarily communicating with enterprises who need effective measurement strategies. Additionally, social impact bonds provide a way for the government to invest in solutions that have proven the intended social outcome. However, for these bonds to be the most effective there needs to be a thorough understanding of the appropriate uses of social impact measurement. 

To productively shape the future for social enterprises in Australia, this paper provides two specific policy recommendations. Firstly, to utilise the wealth of knowledge on social enterprises in Europe by connecting with them through a conference. This conference should focus on social impact measurement and should connect academics, government, and social entrepreneurs. And secondly, to expand the current piolet programs for social impact bonds to create more sustainable funding methods for social enterprises. In addition, with social impact bonds, the government is only paying for programs which have proven results. 

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"Integrating Small to Medium Businesses (SMB) into the digital economy"

Jack attended the 2018 OECD Forum in Paris. Jack is currently studying a Bachelor of Commerce at the University of Melbourne Faculty of Business and Economics and is also an Outgoing Exchange Manager for AIESEC Melbourne. 

Abstract

Small to medium-sized businesses (SMB) are fundamental components of the Australian economy and inextricably linked to middle-class welfare. With over 2.1 million SMB in Australia, they constitute two-thirds of the economy’s jobs and over half of private sector economic activity (Deloitte, 2017). With the rise of globalisation and the rapid growth of technology in the last two decades, the transition to a digital economy poses both risks and opportunities for SMB. Research has found that 87% of Australian SMB are not taking full advantage of the digital tools available to them, especially in regional areas. Given that SMB adoption of these digital tools can add $49.2 billion in untapped economic potential over the next 10 years (NPV), SMB adoption rates not only impact future economic growth and living standards but, on a broader level, impacts Australia’s capacity to compete on an international level (PWC, 2018). 

As such, the Australian Government has a clear prerogative to assist SMB. Although the reasons why digital technology is underutilised by SMB vary by geography, industry and characteristics of owners, recent reports have highlighted reoccurring themes of: a lack of education and training; limited financing opportunities; and a decentralised and disjointed support system, as key factors hindering their adoption of new technologies (Deloitte, 2017). With the rapid pace of digital technology making it difficult for SMB to stay on top of best practices, this report recommends that the Australian government establish a website and toolbox that can provide businesses with easy to understand information. Paired with a comprehensive marketing campaign, this website would assist in communicating the benefits of digitalisation whilst developing SMB digital capabilities. With the rollout of the NBN and other digital infrastructure projects taking place in remote areas of Australia, coupling this with streamlined training and information will assist in overcoming the divide between regional and urban SMB. Additionally, this report recommends developing a small business network to support the promotion of community digitalisation.

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‘Digital literacy; a powerful tool for the advancement and empowerment of women’

Anna attended the United Nations' Commission on the Status of Women 62 (CSW62) in 2018. She is currently studying a Masters of International Business at RMIT University and also holds a Bachelor of Commerce. As well as this she is currently working as a data analyst at the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Abstract

The significance of incorporating women into the workforce has never been more apparent. Not only in terms of its impact on the productivity of an economy but equally the social impact it has on a country. Previous generations of women have fought hard to place the women of today in such a position. As boldly stated by Hausmann, Tyson and Zahidi (2008), ‘a nation’s competitiveness depends significantly on whether and how it educates and utilises its female talent’. In developed nations, women have the opportunity to gain an education, work full-time and even contribute to the family dynamic. Yet still, women fall behind in key statistics such as participation rates and workforce utilisation rates. 

Undertaking analysis of key Australian government reports and statistical findings, this paper seeks to identify the primary areas in which women are falling behind in relation to utilisation and participation in the workforce. These findings will underpin recommendations for policy changes and harmonisation in digital literacy as one targeted solution in tackling lower participation and inclusion of women.

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