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Social justice update – August 2012

Homeless Persons Week
The St Vincent de Paul Society National Council of Australia President, Anthony Thornton had this to say on Homeless Persons Week 2012 (August 6 to 12):  “We continue to be deeply saddened that a wealthy country like ours still has such high levels of homelessness. The least we can do is to ensure that everyone enjoys the right to appropriate housing and to high quality education. We shouldn’t be afraid to learn from Finland’s successes in reducing homelessness and neither should we overlook the fact that education is so highly valued and so universally accessible in that country.” To see the full context in which Mr Thornton’s comments were made click on this link to the media release http://blog.vinnies.org.au/minister-is-on-the-right-track-homeless-persons-week-2012/

Newstart Campaign ramps up a gear
Evidence to the Senate Inquiry into the adequacy of the Newstart Allowance wrapped up on 28 August 2012 and the Senate Committee is now due to report to the Government on 29 November.

Dr John Falzon gave evidence to the inquiry arguing for a $50 per week increase to the current unemployment benefit. He said that “the St Vincent de Paul Society and other charitable organisations had become the de facto providers of social security to people outside the labour market”. Dr Falzon indicated that the unemployment benefit was now so low that it had become a disincentive to work. He said that the unemployment benefit “is simply a deliberate means of humiliating those who are outside of the labour market. And when someone feels humiliated the knock-on effects are not just economic, they are social as well”.

Inquiry into cuts to parenting payments completed
The St Vincent de Paul Society has been active in opposing cuts to parenting payments announced in the Budget in May of this year. The cuts would disproportionately target single mothers who make up the majority of people on parenting payments. The Society made a submission to a Senate inquiry on this issue in early August, and the committee issued its report on 23 August.

The committee made recommendations that any findings be deferred until the Newstart inquiry was complete and the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights had issued its report on the same issues.

As an active participant in both processes, the Society now eagerly awaits the completion of reports by the Newstart inquiry and Human Rights Committee.

Developments in the asylum seeker debate 
The expert panel led by former Air force Chief Huston Angus to solve issues of immigration and refugees released its report on 14 August 2012 which can be located here. In a Media Release the CEO of the St Vincent de Paul Society, Dr John Falzon, expressed sadness over the key recommendations by the panel, saying that “Offshore processing is not the answer. Neither is the punitive treatment of asylum seekers and their families”. He did, however, “welcome the recommended [20,000 person] increase to [Australia’s] humanitarian intake”.

Newsletter available in PDF format
Just a reminder this Social justice update can now be read in PDF format and easily printed out. To read this e-newsletter in PDF format click here and you will be directed to National Council’s Social Justice Blog. Previous issues of the e-newsletter are also available on this website.

Upcoming events

  • Child Protection Week begins – Sunday, September 2
  • UN International Day of Democracy – Saturday, September 15
  • Feast of St Vincent de Paul – Thursday, September 27
  • Anti-Poverty Week 2012 – Sunday, 14 October – Monday, 20 October

Behind the scenes…
Research carried out by Victoria’s Gavin Dufty had quite a powerful impact behind the scenes as both State and Federal MPs highlighted the issue of rising electricity prices, especially in relation to the replacement of poles and wires and market deregulation. Watch this space!

Reflective tweets
@JohnFalzon –We have been waiting for far too long for the restoration of a social security system that actually provides social security #newstart.

About Vinnies

St Vincent de Paul Society is a lay Catholic organisation working towards a more just and compassionate society.

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