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.
Only five days after the Federal Budget we are at the beginning of one of the longest election campaigns in Australian history. CSSA CEO, Marcelle Mogg, featured on ABC's Sunday Nights program looking at the Federal Budget, particularly as it affects agencies linked to church and welfare services.
The Catholic Alliance for People Seeking Asylum (CAPSA) has called on the Federal Government to commit to processing the applications of the 850 men currently on Manus Island here in Australia. CSSA is a member of CAPSA.
Catholic Social Services Australia (CSSA) welcomes the Australian Labor Party’s commitment to tackle the enduring and growing problems of inequality, poverty, intergenerational disadvantage and unemployment in Australia.