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  Issue No 48 Official Organ of LaborNet 31 March 2000  

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Economics

Mutual Obligation

By Neale Towart

New statistics show that an increasing number of people are volunteering to contribute to the community.

The federal government (and Mark Latham) likes to talk about reciprocal obligation and mutualism. They are constantly searching for new ways to impose obligations on those people who don't fit into their narrow economistic view of the world.

A recent survey by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) the amount of volunteer community work done in Australia at present shows that community obligations are already a big part of life for many people in Australia. This is not because of pressure from authority to "make a contribution", but because many people enjoy taking part in their community, from a position of security within it, not because the "obligation" is imposed upon them from on high.

The 1998-99 Work in Selected Culture/Leisure Activities survey was released by the ABS this month. There were 3.5 million people (25% of the adult population) involved in the culture leisure industry. 2.2 million did not receive any payment for their work while 1.3 million received some payment. The mean annual income for all involvements was $10,700.00, while the median was $3,400.00. Of the activities covered, print-making had the highest mean income of $23,400.00.

All this is not indicative of slave labour but of the huge amount of volunteer activity which goes on in organising such community events as festivals and fetes; designing and writing materials for these; community newsletters, voluntary stewarding at art galleries, museums and gardens. Other activities covered by the survey also included, writing and publishing, music, performing arts, art, craft and design, film and video production and cinema, radio and television, teaching arts and leisure activities, and arts organisations.

Only 25.2% of the 142,100 people involved in radio were paid anything at all.

Of the 108,300 people teaching culture and leisure activities at schools, 67,200 were paid ie Over one third of teachers in culture and leisure activities at secondary school were not paid.

45.8% of people who did work in a library or archive were unpaid.

83.2% or museum workers and 66.7% of art gallery workers were unpaid.

The social fabric already depends to a great extent on people being willing and able to get involved in community activities out of a sense of pride and citizenship. Citizens are also aware of the need to pick up where the government has failed in its obligations.


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*   Issue 48 contents

In this issue
Features
*  Interview: The New President
At the end of her first week in the job, new ACTU President Sharan Burrow trades emails with Workers Online.
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*  Health: Making Sense of Medicare
Nurses lift the lid on the Medicare myths as they shape up for a major national campaign.
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*  Unions: Bush Bashing
The Finance Sector Union is taking to the road to pressure the government to impose community service obligations on banks.
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*  Politics: The French Connection
While Victorian building unions are seeking a 36 hour week, Eurpoean nations like France are taking a more communcal approach to working time.
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*  Economics: Mutual Obligation
New statistics show that an increasing number of people are volunteering to contribute to the community.
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*  History: Living Library - Part II
More on the rich labour history that is housed within the walls of Sydney's Mitchell Library.
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*  International: Russian Revolution
Russian trade unions are calling for the revision of a draft Labour Code, against the backdrop of Presidential elections.
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*  Review: Casino Royale
Laurie Aaron's new book is sparking a lively debate about how a progressive agenda can be adapted to the challenges of globalisation.
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*  Satire: Chop ‘em Up and Stick ‘em in Acid”
The West Australian Government is poised to pass Pakistani-style sentencing laws.
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News
»  Workers Demand Internet Access to Organise
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»  ILO Condemns Australian Labor Laws
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»  Flying Doctor Grounds Aussie Jobs
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»  Bank-Bulance Hits the Road
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»  April Deadline on Olympics Pay Claim
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»  Pressure Builds on Stellar Contract
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»  Shares Plummets But Rio Bosses Get Millions
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»  Nurses to Launch Medicare Campaign
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»  Action Boosts Wages for Disabled Workers
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»  SA Workers Close Building Industry
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»  Political Economy for Activists
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»  Workers to Set the Tunes for Dili Streets
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»  OBITUARY - George Petersen (1921-2000)
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Columns
»  The Soapbox
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»  Sport
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»  Trades Hall
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»  Tool Shed
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Letters to the editor
»  An Open Letter to Ansett
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»  Moved by Wal's Life Story
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»  The Problem With Mandatory Sentencing
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