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Social Justice Update – June 2012

Social justice update – June 2012

Captive audience helps to raise awareness of homelessness
This time last week the Society was preparing to host its biggest initiative to alleviate homelessness, the CEO Sleepout. In football stadiums and cultural institutions in capital cities and regional centres across the country the Society had organised it so that on Thursday, June 21 we had the undivided attention of more than 1,040 business and community leaders, including the Federal Minister for Housing and Homelessness, Brendan O’Connor. National Council Chief Executive, Dr John Falzon said having a captive audience of this magnitude enables the Society to help change perceptions of what it means to be homeless in the community and pre-conceived ideas of what a person experiencing homelessness might look like. Thanks to the CEOs and the hard work of St Vincent de Paul Society members, employees and volunteers, over $5million was raised and donations continue to trickle in. The media coverage the event generated could only be described as a media blitz with countless television, radio and print media interviews conducted in the lead up the sleepout, on the night and in following days. See photos of the event below and to find out more go to ceosleepout.org.au

Senate Inquiry into Newstart welcomed
On June 26 federal Senators agreed to hold an Inquiry into the adequacy of income support payments such as Newstart and Youth Allowance. The motion was moved by the Australian Greens and is widely viewed as an opportunity to highlight the difficulty people face living on such meagre payments. The St Vincent de Paul Society joined other community sector groups in welcoming the news and will continue to campaign for an increase of $50 per week minimum in the Newstart Allowance as proposed by the Henry Tax Review. Read more at the Australian Council of Social Service website acoss.org.au

Push for public inquiry into cuts to sole parent payments continues
With one Inquiry secured, the Society is keenly awaiting news on whether the Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights chaired by former speaker, Harry Jenkins, will hold a separate public inquiry on the validity of changes to the sole parents payments as announced in the Budget 2012/13. The Society is one of 15 community groups calling on the committee to hold a public inquiry into the Social Security Amendment Bill that would push sole parents onto the lower-paying Newstart Allowance payment once their youngest child turns eight. National Council Research Officer, Emilija Beljic and others met with the committee last week to explain why the legislation violates Australia’s international human rights obligations. Shortly after, Ms Beljic had the following article on the topic published on the ABC’s The Drum website Who’s afraid of human rights?

NT Intervention set to be extended for 10 years
Despite an outcry from numerous Indigenous and community groups the Stronger Futures legislation is likely to be passed by federal Senators in the final week of June. On June 18, Chief Executive Dr John Falzon made the following statement at a joint press conference held outside the Parliament House of Australia to oppose the legislation: press conference. The St Vincent de Paul Society National Council’s submission criticising the policy was one of 150 submissions. Read those submissions here Stronger Futures in the NT Bill

National Reconciliation Week (May 27 to June 3)
In 2012 this awareness week coincided with the 20th anniversary of the Mabo decision in the High Court of Australia. The St Vincent de Paul Society National President, Tony Thornton, issued a media statement outlining his view that reconciliation can only be achieved where there is justice. Read our media statement blog.vinnies.org.au

National Refugee Week (May 27 to June 3)
How much clearer can we make it? On June 19 the Society issued a statement that urged both the Federal Government and Opposition in the strongest terms to abandon their punitive treatment of people who seek refuge in our country. Read the full media statement here vinnies.org.au

PDF version of this newsletter is available for download Social justice update June 2012

About Vinnies

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

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