On the eve of the election the St Vincent de Paul Society National Council has issued a warning to both sides of politics.
Chief Executive, Dr John Falzon, said: “This Election should not be about giving Mr Abbott a go or giving Mr Rudd a go. It should be about giving a go to the people who are missing out.
“Whoever claims victory on Saturday night is to be warmly congratulated. It is a great honour to serve one’s country as a Prime Minister. But to the victor we also say: Do not take us for granted. Do not take the St Vincent de Paul Society or the many other wonderful charitable and community organisations for granted. It is your responsibility to prevent poverty and to fight inequality. It is not good enough to simply rely on charities to meet the cost of living pressures for single mums or people who are unemployed.
“The people of Australia care deeply about homelessness. We know this from the warm support we receive from the community for our CEO Sleepout each year. But we need more than this if we are to meet the target of halving homelessness by 2020. We need to tackle the issue of housing affordability and the severe lack of social housing head on.
“Mr Rudd and Mr Abbott, who is going to rise to this challenge? Who is going to show some vision? Who is going to have a heart? So far we have heard little from either side as to what you will do for the people who are missing out.
“How will you work to ensure that people have a place to live? What will you do to ensure that people have a place to work, and an adequate income while they have no work? How will you ensure that people have a place to learn, from early childhood right through to university, TAFE and apprenticeship training?” Dr Falzon asked.
National President, Mr Anthony Thornton said: “While we have seen some promising ideas on employment services and supporting TAFE, we are deeply concerned about planned job cuts. We need to boost employment rather than cutting jobs or putting the boot into the unemployed. We still hope to see a commitment from the Opposition to halve homelessness by 2020. We are yet to see a commitment from either side to lift Newstart by $50 a week. We do however see the policies of both sides on asylum seekers and we cannot help but feel a sense of despair.
“An election should be a time of hope. We call on Mr Rudd and Mr Abbott to tell us how the 2.2 million people living in poverty, including the 600,000 kids, should be able to point to their policies as a sign of hope.
“We and the many other charities will always be there to give people a helping hand. But it is not charity that people want. It is justice,” Mr Thornton said.