After almost 20 years of no increase in real terms to the unemployment benefit in Australia the St Vincent de Paul Society has strongly condemned successive governments for their inaction.
Chief Executive, Dr John Falzon told a Senate Inquiry this morning 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:
“It is a matter of deep shame for a wealthy nation like ours that our unemployment benefits have been kept deliberately low as a means of humiliating the very people they were originally designed to assist.
“We will always be there for the people who are waging a daily battle from below the poverty line, but the message we are hearing, the message we are obliged to convey today, is that people do not want charity. They want justice. And we support them in this struggle for their rights.
“We support helping people into the paid workforce. The time has come, however, to abandon the foolish notion that forcing them into deeper poverty improves their chances of employment.
“You don’t build people up by putting them down. You don’t help them get work by forcing them into poverty.”
St Vincent de Paul Society National President, Mr Anthony Thornton, said:
“The members of the St Vincent de Paul Society right across Australia have been waiting for far too long for the restoration of a social security system that actually provides social security. Now is not the time for the government to once again walk away from its responsibility.”
Media contact: Yolanda Saiz 0417 446 430