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Thursday, 15 October 2015 08:29

Sick with worry report: People’s desire to participate shines through

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sick with worry cvrThe St Vincent de Paul Society National Council has marked Anti-Poverty Week 2015 with the launch of the ‘Sick with worry…’ report containing stories from the front-line of inequality and 14 recommendations for urgent action by the Federal Government to help enable people to achieve their dreams of a life without poverty.

The report is being launched by Vinnies CEO Dr John Falzon in conjunction with the Social Determinants of Health Alliance Anti-Poverty Week Oration in Canberra today.

The report comprises more than 20 stories from people located around Australia who are assisted by the St Vincent de Paul Society. The stigma faced by those living in poverty, the inherent insecurity that homelessness and housing stress entails and the disproportionate impact of poverty on women emerged as key themes.

Dr John Falzon said: “Our task is to transform these personal stories of injustice into powerful, collective struggle for a society in which people are not blamed because economic structures lock them out or, in some cases, lock them up; one in which people are not told that they would not be poor if only they chose to be a little more productive. Even while being excluded by a range of structural causes which push them to the edge, what people want most is to participate in and contribute to society.”

Key recommendations from the report include:

  • We call on the Federal Government to commit to a National Jobs Plan alongside comprehensive plans for housing and health. The Federal Government must take the lead on tackling homelessness, including increased investment and minimum four-year funding commitments to the National Partnership on Homelessness.
  • Housing taxation must be reformed and minimum wage and penalty rates be maintained and strengthened.
  • For all government services to be properly funded, including those for survivors of domestic violence so they can stay in their homes, free community GPs, Indigenous and rural health, primary and secondary education and all other social services.
  • To make income support adequate, and non-stigmatising, by increasing Newstart by at least $50 per week immediately and indexing all payments to wages instead of CPI, scrapping Compulsory Income Management, increasing rent assistance and putting parents on Parenting Payment.

“What shone through in our research were three remarkable opportunities for change. First, supportive, rights-based services can and do help many people out of poverty. Secondly, people’s overwhelming love for their children presents a wonderful lens through which to see change happen. And, finally what almost everyone desire above all else is to be able to participate– but to do this the Government needs to create plans for housing, health and job creation and not walk away from its responsibility to provide people with a place to live, a place to work, a place to learn and a place to heal,” Dr Falzon said.

In this excerpt from Dr Falzon's moving speech at the ACT Legislative Assembly in Canberra on 14 October for Anti-Poverty week, he emphasised:

But our solidarity is stronger than our sadness

For we know that

Humanity will win

against humiliation

Humiliation

well-known for begetting disempowerment

or rage

which is just disempowerment turned outwards

Humiliation

turns into revolution

under the guiding stars of struggle and hope

A revolution in the way we think about poverty

In the way we prioritise our needs as a nation

The way we organise our resources

And treat our people

From the Firsts peoples

To those who come across the seas in leaky boats

With nothing but a tiny nugget of hope in their pockets.


Get a copy of the full report "Sick With Worry" online.

Read John Falzon's  Anti-Poverty Week Oration at the ACT Legislative Assembly in Canberra on 14 October 2015.

 

Media contact: Evan Langdon 0400 845 492 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.