In 2016 we look to our elected representatives to prioritise people experiencing poverty and vulnerability, through the development and implementation of social and economic policies that increase opportunities for all people to realise their potential.
CSSA’s vision is for a compassionate and just Australia, a place where all people are treated with respect and have the opportunity to fully participate and contribute to society and live a dignified, healthy and meaningful life.
In this election year we will focus on three key areas:
Having an adequate income to live is essential for leading a life of dignity and to enable people to access social and economic opportunities. We ask for:
- An Independent Commission to be established to advise Government on the appropriate level of welfare payments[i]. Poverty is growing in Australia with an estimated 2.5 million people or 13.9% of all people living below the internationally accepted poverty line[ii]. The current level of welfare payments to individuals and families is inadequate and is set and adjusted by Government based on budgetary priorities rather than evidence based need; and
- Government to undertake and make public modelling on the social and economic impacts on individuals and families for all new legislation. This will allow greater transparency on the impacts arising from proposed legislation.
- Transparency of Government modelling for all new legislation which has a bearing on Australian households (particularly low and middle income households).
[i] CSSA 2008 An Australian Entitlements Commission http://www.cssa.org.au/policy-and-publications/policy-papers/discussion-papers/#.VxAxSk1JmUk
Over 100,000 people were homeless at the last Census and rents remain unaffordable for many people, especially those on welfare payments[i]. A home provides stability, privacy and security that can support meaningful participation in the community, education, the job market and social networks.
We ask for:
- The adoption of a national housing strategy that commits all governments to devise appropriate mechanisms to increase the supply of affordable housing and address homelessness; and
2. Continue the National Affordable Housing Agreement and the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness including the establishment of funding mechanisms that increase the supply of affordable housing.
[i] Anglicare Rental Affordability Snapshot 2015 https://www.anglicare.org.au/latest-news/rental-affordability-snapshot-2015
Some of the most vulnerable people are those seeking refuge and asylum. CSSA believes that people who seek asylum should generally live in the community. Detention should be used only for necessary processing or when ordered by the Courts. Accordingly we ask that:
- No children be in detention centres on or off shore, and that unaccompanied children be in the care and protection of an independent guardian. Children must have access to education and medical services to support their social and mental health; and
- Asylum seekers living in Australia waiting for their protection claims to be resolved need to be able to work, access education and other health, community services and financial support. There are 29,008 people (including 3,979 children)[i] who have been permitted to live in the community on Bridging Visas but have been left in limbo with unresolved protection claims. These people also need their situation resolved in a fair and timely manner rather than face the current protracted situation.
[i] As at November 2015 - Australian Human Rights Commission https://www.humanrights.gov.au/immigration-detention-statistics
An opinion piece by CSSA CEO, Marcelle Mogg. Jack, a farmer in western Queensland, has been under financial pressure for many years now, thanks to the drought. The unrelenting stress and anxiety about the future are putting strain on his marriage and his family. He works very long days and is isolated from extended family and friends. Who can he turn to? Simon, another man on the land, is struggling under the weight of grief following an accident that killed a member of his family. He’s having trouble talking to his wife who is also grieving, and the whole situation is making it hard to deal with the daily challenges of running his large dairy farm. Who can help before it gets to a crisis situation? Up until June 30, both of these men were able to access tailored community mental health, and family and relationship counselling services that were established two years ago to support drought affected communities. Catholic Social Services Australia (CSSA) members are among the providers who have been delivering these services, often one-on-one, usually by visiting people on their properties over a period of time, at their request, or through a community event setting, such as men’s sheds, afternoon teas, or stands at agricultural shows. However, in a blow to rural communities, the 2016-17 Federal Budget ended the ongoing funding for these crucial, and successful, services. So, from July 1, these vital, on-the-ground mental health services ceased.
The Catholic Alliance for People Seeking Asylum (CAPSA) - of which CSSA is a member - has today issued an open letter to Australia’s political leaders urging them to develop more humane responses towards people seeking protection in Australia. The letter, sent to leaders of the major parties and the key spokespeople, follows the Catholic Bishops of Australia listing the treatment of refugees and people seeking asylum as their number one issue of concern. “One of the most pressing issues in Australia from an ethical and moral perspective is the treatment of people seeking protection in Australia,” reads the letter. “We, as members of the Catholic community, in schools, parishes, hospitals and other organisations are very concerned. Although interdiction has stopped more people coming by boat to Australian territory, those who have tried are still being punished and denied any hope of finding a new life in Australia.”
CSSA's Housing and Homelessness fact sheet outlines our position for the 2016 Federal Election. We look to our elected representatives to prioritise people experiencing poverty and vulnerability, through the development and implementation of social and economic policies that increase opportunities for all people to realise their potential.
CSSA has launched a series of fact sheets for Election 2016. The first of these, "Income to live", outlines CSSA's position on this vital area of public importance. This coincides with Australian Council of Social Services' (ACOSS) open letter asking all the major parties to put reducing poverty and inequality at the heart of the 2016 Federal Election.
In light of a government decision to not renew funding for community mental health and family and relationship counselling services programme in drought affected communities, CSSA has developed a Rural Community Resilience Programme. This programme, drawing on the success of the earlier model, enables counsellors to go into rural and remote communities and extend mental health, family and relationship support to people in their homes, on their stations, and at community events.