The Catholic Bishops of Australia have used their annual Social Justice Statement to call on governments, and the broader community, to address growing rates of homelessness in Australia.
The 2018–2019 Social Justice Statement, A Place to Call Home: Making a home for everyone in our land, states that secure and affordable housing is a human right that is being denied to too many Australians.
The latest Census figures show that more than 116,000 Australians are homeless – something unacceptable for a rich and well-resourced nation like ours. Yet these people are only the tip of the iceberg. Welfare agencies report growing numbers of families and individuals struggling to meet the cost of mortgages or rents and turning to specialist housing services, which are often unable to meet demand.
The Bishops call for improved levels of income support and assistance for the most vulnerable, for greater investment in public and community housing, and for action to address the structural issues that overinflate the cost of housing.
The statement was launched by Ms Netty Horton, CEO of CatholicCare Melbourne, and Mr Jack de Groot, CEO of the Society of St Vincent de Paul NSW, with Most Rev Vincent Long Van Nguyen OFM Conv, Chairman of the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council.
"We pray that Australia will hear the challenges that this Statement offers: to confront an economy that has allowed housing to become out of the reach of so many; to reach out, like the Samaritan, to the wounded and helpless; and to call on our governments to make hard decisions that will allow everyone in our communities to find secure accommodation. The Statement’s concluding sentence is a message for all of us: ‘Everyone deserves a place to call home’," says Bishop Long.
Click here to read the statement and to find other resources, including Liturgy Notes to celebrate Social Justice Sunday.