Melbourne Institute Virtual Colloquium

This regularly held colloquium presents our findings and provides a forum for a broad discussion on a range of topics that inform and shape Australian economic and social policy. Each colloquium is moderated by Professor A. Abigail Payne, Director of the Melbourne Institute or the Melbourne Institute Deputy Director, Professor Roger Wilkins.

Register for the current Virtual Colloquium

Measuring Individual Poverty: Correlates and Variation Over Time

Entrenched and persistent poverty is ever more important given 2020 events in Australia.  We study the variations in poverty status at a household level using longitudinal Australian Census data from 2006 to 2016. In this recently released Breaking Down Barriers report (in partnership with the Paul Ramsay Foundation) we explore movements into and out of poverty and the degree to which we observe persistence in poverty across a range of socio-demographic characteristics.   The report also examines the factors that change over time (ageing, gaining or losing employment, educational attainment, and family dynamics) that may affect poverty. Finally, we examine the correlation between community poverty rates and individual poverty.  This report extends our previous work on the subject of poverty in Australia that focused on the experience of communities.

Presenters: Professor A. Abigail Payne & Dr Maxim Ananyev

Insights from the 2020 HILDA Statistical Report

The Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey is a record of how we live. It shows researchers many things; for example, how economics affects our lives, or how choices made in the past lead to particular life outcomes. Above all, the Survey enables researchers to see how Australia – and its population – have changed over time. The annual HILDA Statistical Report captures the essence of the Survey data, revealing selected research findings from the wealth of information collected since 2001. In this colloquium, Professor Roger Wilkins will provide an overview of this year’s report, of selected findings from waves 1 to 18. The presentation will focus on what the HILDA Survey tells us about life in Australia prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and what the report’s findings may mean for our post-COVID future.

Presenter: Professor Roger Wilkins

Can an innovative Early Years Program improve outcomes for children facing extreme adversity?

Children who experience prolonged exposure to trauma and abuse early in life are set on a trajectory of diminished wellbeing. This colloquium will describe how an innovative Australian intervention targeted at vulnerable children, the Early Years Education Program (EYEP), has bought large improvements in their intellectual and social development.  Ideas for how EYEP might be replicated in other settings, and how the research findings can be used to inform future policy-making, will be presented.

Presenter: Dr Yi-Ping Tseng

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Spatial and Community Dimensions of Poverty

Poverty remains an issue that Australia must address. The importance of addressing entrenched and persistent poverty is ever more important given 2020 events such as devastation from the bushfires and the economic issues that have resulted from our needing to address COVID-19. As a country, poverty rates fall below those observed for the USA but above those observed for the United Kingdom and New Zealand. Poverty, when measured at a community level, ranges from 0 percent to well over 60 percent. For more than 40 percent of our communities, current poverty rates in Australia are simply unacceptable. This colloquium will explore the dynamics of community poverty rates. The presentation and discussion reflects on the findings in a soon to be released report in the Melbourne Institute Breaking Down Barriers series (supported by the Paul Ramsay Foundation).

Presenters: Professor A. Abigail Payne & Dr Rajeev Samarage

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Does poverty in childhood beget poverty in adulthood in Australia?

This colloquium will focus on the results from the first study under the Melbourne Institute Breaking Down Barriers report series. This series is supported by the Paul Ramsay Foundation. The colloquium examines the extent to which experiencing income-based disadvantage in childhood is a predictor of disadvantage in early adulthood. The analysis explores the extent and structure of this form of inter-generational transmission of disadvantage, especially entrenched income-based poverty.

Presenters: Professor Roger Wilkins & Dr Esperanza Vera-Toscana

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Insights into financial wellbeing

Financial wellbeing is at the forefront of many of our minds. Can most households survive the economic challenges presented by the global pandemic? This colloquium will present insights based on the financial wellbeing scales developed in cooperation with the Commonwealth Bank of Australia and survey results to consider and discuss the state of financial wellbeing in Australia and what we might expect in the months to follow.

Presenter: Professor John P. de New

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Insecure forms of employment

For many years the labour movement has been warning us about the perils of insecure work. The claim is that many Australian workers are subject to unpredictable and fluctuating pay, irregular and unpredictable working hours, inferior rights and entitlements, lack of certainty over job continuity, and a general lack of control over their working situation. More recently, workers have borne the brunt of job losses arising out of the COVID-19 pandemic.Professor Mark Wooden will present on the findings from a three-year project investigating non-standard employment in Australia and its consequences.

Presenter: Professor Mark Wooden

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The consequences of child marriage in Indonesia

Did you know that the legal age for marriage in Indonesia is 19?  Yet close to 25 million women and 7 million men have married well before this age. Child marriage is prohibited by international law. UNICEF reports that if progress to end this practice is not accelerated, 150 million girls will be married in childhood by 2030.This colloquium will present the results of analysis that finds significant and persistent negative effects of child marriage on women and men. These negative effects also have consequences across generations in Indonesia.

Presenters: Professor Lisa Cameron and Dr Diana Contreras Suarez

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Taking the Pulse of the Nation: The effect of COVID-19 on the economics and health of Australians

This colloquium will focus on the insights from current information on how the global pandemic is affecting Australians. The insights are based on data collected under the Melbourne Institute survey “Taking the Pulse of the Nation.” This survey is on-going (since the beginning of the pandemic) and captures information on the economic and social wellbeing of Australians.

This colloquium will showcase three key questions:

  • Are people satisfied with government policies to lockdown the economy but with provisions to support jobs and keep people at work? Are Australians financially stressed?
  • Is there acceptance of mandatory requirements? Has there been changes in social behaviour?
  • Are Australians taking care of their health or avoiding using health care during the pandemic? What is the use of Telehealth?

Presenters: Professor Guay Lim, Professor Yuting Zhang and Professor Ragan Petrie

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The falling growth in the use of private healthcare

Since 2016, the growth in use of private healthcare has been declining due to falling membership of private health insurance and increasing financial pressure on households in the face of continuing increases in private health insurance premiums and out-of-pocket costs. We will describe the falling growth of the sector and discuss the potential consequences on both the private and public hospital sectors.

Presenter: Dr. Susan J. Méndez

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The value of using tax filer information from ALife for policy research

Can information from tax records inform policy?  In recent years, the Australian Tax Office has created a randomly sampled longitudinal data set of tax filers, allowing us to track reported income and related information over time. We will discuss some current research projects and how they can support policy and practice in Australia.

Presenter: Dr Cain Polidano

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Should hospital funding be linked to the socio-economic status of patients?

Should hospitals receive additional payments for treating patients who are socio-economically disadvantaged? If disadvantaged patients make greater use of hospital service and experience more in-hospital adverse events, this would lead to the under-funding of hospitals. We will present analyses of hospital usage by socio-economic status and explore the role of extra payments in relation to proposals to reform hospital payments for chronic disease by using capitation payments.

Presenter: Associate Professor Jongsay Yong

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Employment and income policy: Post COVID-19 implications

How has JobKeeper and JobSeeker addressed issues of unemployment and reduced hours of work during this current pandemic? Who receives the payments and what are the effects of these payments on the recipients? Can JobKeeper and JobSeeker address needs moving forward?

Presenter: Professor Guyonne Kalb

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Economic conditions and opioid overdoses

We have witnessed marked increases in overdose deaths attributable to highly addictive prescription pain killers or opioids. Who is most affected? Will these deaths continue to increase or decline in a post-COVID-19 country?

Presenter: Professor John P. de New

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Mental health and the COVID-19 crisis

The COVID-19 crisis, and the economic disruption it brings, represents a major threat to mental health. We will examine profiles of mental health in the Australian community and consider whether a major national policy response, the introduction of the coronavirus supplement, has had a positive effect on mental health.

Presenter: Professor Peter Butterworth

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