Thanks for your interest in On Life’s Lottery, published by Hachette.

This blog contains links for references in the text, with the occasional additional note on sources.

Glyn Davis


Pg 1     Ursula Le Guin, ‘The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas’, reprinted at

Pg 4     ‘ … this game of chance and its inherent unfairness…’  Of course, support for equal rights cannot be assumed.  A 2015 poll found that 20 percent of Americans believe the statement ‘all men are created equal’ is false.  Reported by Joshua Rothman, 2020, ‘The Equality Conundrum’, The New Yorker, 6 January,

Pg 6     Robert H. Frank, 2016.  Success and Luck: Good Fortune and the Myth of Meritocracy, Princeton University Press.

Pg 6     ‘There, but for an accident of birth, or the grace of God, or the mystery of fate, go I’ from an article in the New York Times from Harvard philosopher Michael Sandel, 2 September 2020.  The full quote:

Appreciating the role of luck in life can prompt a certain humility: There, but for an accident of birth, or the grace of God, or the mystery of fate, go I.  This spirit of humility is the civic virtue we need now.  It is the beginning of the way back from the harsh ethic of success that drives us apart.  It points beyond the tyranny of merit towards a less rancorous, and more generous public life.

Accessed at

Pg 6     ‘Some 80 percent of adult Australians make charitable donations each year …’ reported by Wendy Scaife and Christopher Baker, ‘There’s cause for celebration and concern in how Australians are giving to charity’, The Conversation, 14 March 2017, available at

Pg 7     ‘ …many invest their time helping charities and other community organisations such as schools.’  Some 3.6 million Australians volunteer.  From ‘Who Are Australia’s Volunteers (2016 update)’,

Pg 7     ‘… everyday embodiment of love in action’, a quote from

Pg 11   Conny Lenneberg – personal communication

Pg 11   The ACOSS and UNSW study Poverty in Australia 2020 is available at

This analysis draws on Part 1: Overview, p. 9.  The poverty line is set at 50 percent of median income, before deducting housing costs.

Pg 11   ‘Our levels of poverty are slightly higher than OECD averages ‘ – drawn from Society at a Glance 2014 Highlights,  Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, available at

Pg 12   ‘Above all, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians …’ Writing about these communities as a non-Indigenous person raises inevitable challenges about perspective and understanding. Basic terminology is not always settled. In choosing ‘Aborigine and Torres Strait Islander’ over other possible descriptions for Australia’s first peoples, I draw on advice from the helpful Common Ground guide, and from a 2020 style guide developed by Aborigine and Torres Strait Islander colleagues at the Paul Ramsay Foundation.

Pg 13   The ANU study quoted is by ND Westbury and MC Dillon, ‘Overcoming Indigenous Exclusion: very hard, plenty humbug’ , Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research, 1/2019, p. 17, available at

Pg 14   ‘On average the more years …’ This data is from Does poverty in childhood beget poverty in adulthood in Australia?, from the Melbourne Institute and available at

This rich data shows the challenge of escaping poverty if born into disadvantage.  Only 21.9 percent of male persistently-pool children escape poverty by the time they are young adults, and only 13.5 percent of females.

Pg 15   ‘A 2016 Productivity Commission report …’ This research focused in particular on markers of disadvantage for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. Since publication it has been updated with 2020 data, and can be accessed at

Pg 16   Malthus, Thomas, 1826. An Essay on the Principle of Population 6th ed, in E.A Wrigley and D. Souden, eds.The Works of Thomas Robert Malthus, Vol 3, p 338.  I am indebted to the economist Robert Dixon for drawing attention to the quote.

Pg 16   ‘In his 2012 essay …’ Peter Singer’s ‘Ethics and Poverty’ is a chapter in the book Values and Ethics for the 21st Century, BBVA, 2012, reproduced on the Open Mind website,

Pg 20   ‘As sociologist Sian Supski …’ In Sian Supski, 2009, A Proper Foundation: a history of the Lotteries Commission of Western Australia 1932-2008, Perth: Lotterywest.

Pg 20   ‘… slightly more taxing and spending than the United States, but significantly less committed to redistribution than Europeans.’   The United States sees 24.33 percent of the economy controlled by government through taxes.  In Australia that number is 28.53 precent.  In Sweden it is 43.93 percent. The figures from the OECD Tax Revenue statistics are measured up to 2017 –

Testing a different OECD measure still produces the same ranking.  The 2019 Government at a Glance report from the OECD includes an overall measure of general government revenues.  The United States returns a result of 33.8 percent for 2018, Australia 35.9, and Sweden 50.8.  Reported at

Pg 21   ‘with a commensurately constrained offering of services.’  A distinctive feature of Australian social policy is the mix of universal and targeted services, guided by a notion of safety nets and co-contribution.  One observer calls this the ‘fist full of details.’

Pg 23   ‘… to support South Australians experiencing hardship.’  This draws on

The distinction between ‘charity’ and ‘foundation’ used here is one of role rather than precise nomenclature.  Not all foundations choose to work through third parties by funding charities.

Pg 24   ‘Through donations, Australians each year …’ Data are drawn from ‘Giving in Australia: the fast facts’, Philanthropy Australia, accessed at

pg 24   ‘… employing more than 1.3 million Australians …’ Data from ‘The Australian Charitable Sector’, a summary by the Australian Charities and Not For Profits Commission, accessed at

pg 25   Government remains the most significant player in addressing disadvantage…’  Overall income for the charitable sector in 2017 was $146.1 billion.  This included substantial Commonwealth money for services provided through charities.  By contrast, combined government spending on education alone was $111.8 billion in 2016, $123 billion on health and $158 billion on social security and welfare.

Pg 26   ‘Charity is a cold grey loveless thing …’.  Perhaps Clement Attlee Perhaps said this. The famous quote is now contested, with suggestions it may be a paraphrase coined by Attlee’s biographer, Francis Beckett.

Pg 29   ‘Noel Pearson has described poor design …’. This has been a consistent theme of Noel Pearson’s work, and can be found at

‘Marcia Langton argues that economic inclusion, not a ‘state-imposed tangle of policies, programs and bureaucracy’ is required.’ This is drawn from David Donaldson, ‘Marcia Langton: Government accelerating Indigenous people into ‘permanent poverty’’, The Mandarin, 25 February 2019, available at

Pg 30   Bob Hawke’s promise is evaluated by Michael Koziol, ‘No child will live in poverty? 30 years on, Bob Hawke’s promise remains an elusive goal’, Sydney Morning Herald, 22 June 2017, accessed at

Malcolm Turnbull committed to ‘reduce by at least half the proportion of men, women and children living in poverty in all its dimensions.’ He is quoted in Poverty in Australia 2020 is available at  This analysis draws on Part 1: Overview, p. 6

Pg 34   Our Place is described at

Pg 37   Regenerating Doveton by investing in place, a report on Doveton College by Dennis Glover, 2020, accessed at–-Regenerating-Doveton_Web.pdf

Pg 40  ‘Too many are from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families, the most incarcerated peoples in the world.’ The claim from Noel Pearson about comparative incarceration rates that has been challenged, tested independently, and confirmed.  See

Pg 40   ‘A 2017 report by PWC Indigenous consulting …’ The statistic is found on p. 32 of Indigenous incarceration: Unlock the facts, PWC Indigenous Consulting, May 2017, accessed at

Pg 41   ‘… long career of incarceration’ from chapter 24 ‘Juvenile Justice’, them Home was the final 1997 report of the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from Their Families.

Pg 41   ‘The Maranguka Justice Reinvestment Project …’  The work of Just Reinvest NSW at Bourke is described at

Pg 42   ‘… 90 percent of young people released from custody were in trouble with the law again a year later’ is drawn from Robert Milliken, 2018, ‘Revival on the Darling’, Inside Story, 18 September,

Pg 43   ‘As the Australian Law Reform Commission observes …’. This is described in ‘What is Justice Reinvestment?’ from The Australian Law Reform Commission, accessed at

Pg 44   ‘NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard …’ is quoted in Robert Mlliken, ‘Revival on the Darling’, Inside Story, 18 September,

Pg 44   ‘lack this basic documentation …’ – quoted at  A program by Pathfinders, supported by a grant from the Paul Ramsay Foundation, resumed facilitating birth certificate registration from late 2020.

Pg 45   Markers of disadvantage – ‘early life, education, employment, housing, healthcare, child safety, and health outcomes including mental health and drugs and alcohol.’  Quoted at  The project collated maps of disadvantage and primary sources as background to the problems faced in Bourke, captured in one place at

Pg 46   ‘Days spent in custody have fallen by nearly half.’  These results are reported in Our Public Service Our Future: independent review of the Australian Public Service, Commonwealth of Australia, 2019, p. 124.

Pg 48   ‘An assessment by KPMG…’ available at

Pg 49   ‘A Yuin Nation man, Trei Stewart…’.  Trei’s story is introduced by Just Reinvest NSW at  His journey, linked with sister Karlie,  was updated recently by the ABC at  The quotes from Trei are my transcripts from a video of the event at Government House. 

Pg 51   ‘This collaborative approach for communities has a name: collective impact.’  The term was popularised by John Kania and Mark Kramer,  2011, ‘Collective Impact’, Stanford Social Innovation Review, Winter, pp. 36-41.

Pg 51   ‘… there is also a lively counter-narrative…’  Tom Wolff, 2016, ‘Ten Places Where Collective Impact Gets It Wrong’, Global Journal of Community Psychological Practice, Vol 7, No 1, 15 March 2016, and reproduced at

Pg 54   ‘In Britain, the collective impact model …’ Radical Help – How We Can Remake the Relationships Between Us and Revolutionise the Welfare State, by Hilary Cottam, 2019, Virago, London.

Pg 54 ‘the best aid does not look like aid.  It looks like, and is, collaboration.’   Pamela Ryan, 2020. ‘How to help – without doing harm’, Australian Financial Review, 7 March, p. 41.

Pg 57   ‘Yet Two Australias: a report on poverty …’ Two Australias: A Report on Poverty in the Land of Plenty, a 2001 report commissioned by the St Vincent de Paul Society, and published at

Pg 58   ‘people feel their success …’ is a quote from Michael Lewis, reproduced in Robert H. Frank, Success and Luck: Good Fortune and the Myth of Meritocracy, p. xiv

Pg 62   ‘In Randomistas …’ – Andrew Leigh, 2018, Randomistas: How Radical Researchers Changed Our World, Black Ink.

Pg 63   ‘’Such information helps pinpoint ..’ These overlay maps on bushfire affected communities are available at

Pg 64   Vanguard Laundry Services describe their mission and operations at

Pg 64   ‘There are an estimated 20,000 social enterprises across the nation.’  The figure is cited and referenced in Erin Castellas and Jo Barraket, ‘How social enterprises are building a more inclusive Australian economy’, The Conversation, 4 December 2017, available at

Pg 66   ‘An interim report from the panel …’, Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet Social Impact Investing Taskforce – Interim Report, available at

Pg 67   ‘Writing in the Harvard Business Review …’ Alan Schwartz and Reuben Finighan, ‘Impact Investment Won’t Save Capitalism’, Harvard Business Review, 17 July 2020, available at

Pg 70   ‘Journalist Mike Secombe tells us …’ in ‘The end of charity: Sector at risk of collapse’ The Saturday paper, 25 July 2020, accessed at (but there is a paywall)

Pg 70   ‘… the Reverend Tim Costello …’ is quoted by Mike Secombe in ‘The end of charity: Sector at risk of collapse’ The Saturday paper, 25 July 2020.