Christmas message: Work with us
The St Vincent de Paul Society National Council of Australia has urged the federal government to make a fresh start in its approach to social policy in 2014.
Chief Executive, Dr John Falzon said: “We appreciate that a new government has its own agenda. We do not accept, however, that it has a right to withdraw from its responsibility to people living with the pain of poverty and inequality.
“We reject the notion that government should simply get out of the way and let markets, supplemented by charities, do what they can to create a fair go for all. The trickle-down theory doesn’t work. Markets are very good at encouraging innovation and providing choice but they are not good instruments for ensuring equity or access to essentials such as housing, education and health. Sadly, as we have seen with the recent upheavals in the car industry, markets are not even able to guarantee access to employment.
“This why governments must do what markets cannot.
“It is not acceptable either to expect that charities should be the default mode of delivering social security. Charities play a vital role in a robust civil society, but we should never be seen as an excuse for government to pull back from its responsibilities or to cut social expenditure.
National President, Mr Anthony Thornton, added: “The government has made a serious mistake in moving to axe the Australian Charities and Not for Profit Commission (ACNC). It also recently showed worrying signs in attempting to defer the recognition of advocacy as being intrinsic to our role as charities.”
“The St Vincent de Paul Society was founded not only to assist people in need but to advocate for structural changes to prevent the growth of poverty and inequality. We will never back down from our obligation to do both. As our founder, Frederic Ozanam, wrote: You must not be content with tiding the poor over the poverty crisis: You must study their condition and the injustices which brought about such poverty, with the aim of a long term improvement.
“Our Christmas wish is for the government to work with all of us who are trying to build a just and compassionate society. This means ensuring that everybody, from the First Peoples to the most recently-arrived asylum seekers and everyone in between, has the right to housing, education and employment and that people outside the labour market are not forced to struggle below the poverty line on an inadequate social security payment.”