The St Vincent de Paul Society National Council of Australia says with more people accessing specialisthomelessness services and the same services experiencing funding uncertainty, repairs to the Budget must not come at the expense of the most disadvantaged people in our community.
“We urge the Australian government to begin 2015 by embracing a path of economic growth through investing in people and jobs and reducing inequality. We need to invest in education and training and we are in dire need of a Jobs Plan, including strong supports for people who are currently forced to live below the poverty line because they have been unable to find work.
“What we do not need is a new version of compulsory income management, which is inherently disempowering and completely fails to address the structural drivers of unemployment.
“Neither do we need our universal healthcare system to be undermined and made unaffordable for people who are struggling to make ends meet, even when they are in paid employment.
“Similarly, cuts to Indigenous Legal Aid services are deeply unjust.”
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) report released on 15 December, 2014 found that 254,000 people accessed specialist homelessness services in 2013-14 – an increase of four per cent from the previous year. And the recent ACOSS Community Sector Survey found 80% of frontline agencies are unable to meet current levels of demand with the resources they have.
The St Vincent de Paul Society is also dismayed over the decision to make drastic cuts to the Foreign Aid Budget, the Australian Human Rights Commission and the implementation of absurd levels of compliance for Work for the Dole (WFTD) affecting only Indigenous Australians.
National President, Anthony Thornton said: “It is clear that the issues of homelessness, disadvantage and the subsequent demands on the community sector are not going away. In 2015 we ask the government to work with charities, which play a vital role in a robust civil society but which should never be the default mode of delivering social security.
“Greater investment in social expenditure, including spending on social security, housing, health and education, makes economic sense because it is an investment in people and communities. The idea of Team Australia is hollow when so many people are left on the sideline.” Mr Thornton said.
Media contact: Lachlan Harley on (02) 6202 1200 or firstname.lastname@example.org