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Social justice update – Autumn 2013

The St Vincent de Paul Society National Council of Australia has signed onto a new campaign calling for asylum seekers work rights to be reinstated. The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC) initiated the Right to Work campaign, which has the support of 45 other prominent organisations. The campaign seeks to highlight the problems faced by asylum seekers, who arrived in Australia post August 13 last year and who are subject to the no advantage rule, as well as those people who arrived prior to this date and have not been granted the right to work. The ASRC estimates that in 2013, 10,000 asylum seekers will be released nationally into the community without work rights. The campaign calls on the Minister for Immigration, Brendan O’Connor, to extend the right to work to all asylum seekers released into the community and provide them with employment support services to better help them secure paid employment.

Celebrating International Women’s Day in 2013

The St Vincent de Paul Society marked International Women’s Day (March 8, 2013) with renewed calls for the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition to jointly support an increase in the Newstart Allowance. The Chief Executive of the St Vincent de Paul Society, Dr John Falzon, said women are over-represented in national homelessness, domestic violence and poverty statistics. “Pushing single parents onto the lower Newstart payment is an unforgivable kick in the teeth to so many women. We urge the Prime Minister to respond to requests from the United Nations to account for the sole parents’ policy and to increase Newstart by $50 a week as a means of alleviating the poverty women face today,” Dr Falzon said. National President Anthony Thornton said: “The time for talking has long passed. There is no excuse for a wealthy country like ours to make life even harder for women who are struggling.”

Future role of the Federal Department of Human Services under review
On March 11, 2013 the St Vincent de Paul Society welcomed the announcement of an expert panel to advise on future service delivery provided by Centrelink and Medicare. Dr John Falzon is one of 17 representatives from the health and community sectors to sit on the new Council on Strategy and Innovation. The former Minister for Human Services, Senator Kim Carr said at the time of the announcement: “In less than 15 years, Australia’s population is projected to be about 28 million people and every single one of them will use the services provided by the Department of Human Services. When they visit the doctor, look for a job, start a family, or are affected by a natural disaster, the Department’s agencies, such as Medicare and Centrelink, will be serving them.” On March 12, 2013 The Canberra Times printed this article about the new Council, Heavy hitters brought in for Medicare, Centrelink.

New interim agreement on homelessness reached

The State and Territory housing ministers signed off on a $320 million agreement that will fund the first year of the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness (NPAH). The ministers met at a COAG Select Council on Housing and Homelessness meeting on Thursday, March 28. Two weeks prior to that meeting the Federal Minister for Housing and Homelessness, Mark Butler, had announced the Commonwealth would fund $159 million of the first year interim agreement and called on the States to match this figure. The full COAG report is available here. The dates for the latest rounds of the National Rental Affordability Scheme (NRAS) were also discussed at the COAG meeting. It was announced that funding applications would be accepted between April 18 and May 22, 2013. Minister Butler also announced round five of the NRAS would open on May 7, 2013 and close on August 6, 2013. For more information visit www.fahcsia.gov.au/nras

Latest news for the Society
·The autumn issue of The Record is out now and a striking image of the founder of the St Vincent de Paul Society, the Blessed Frederic Ozanam, graces the front cover to mark the 200th anniversary of his birth in Milan on April 23, 1813.
·Last month the Society also advocated for the rights of workers experiencing job insecurity when it made a submission to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Education and Employment.
·The National Council office has made three submissions to the Philanthropy and Exemptions Unit of Treasury regarding governance and reporting requirements for not for profits.

Upcoming events
· The Single Parents Action Group has organised a second round of protests against payment cuts to take place in major capital cities on Saturday, April 13. See the website for more details.

  • · The media launch of the Vinnies CEO Sleepout will be held at the Sydney Opera House on Wednesday, April 10. For more information about the 2013 event go to www.ceosleepout.org.au

On March 13, 2013 @VinniesQLD tweeted: “We’re so pleased to see the Vinnies Community Sleepouts popping up around the state this year. Good luck to our… http://fb.me/27hphlZNR “.

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