Vinnies – Charities can’t fill gaps for government

by | Apr 22, 2014 | Justice and Peace

svdp-logo-ausCharities warn they can’t fill in the gaps if Australian government cuts welfare according to the Sydney Morning Herald

Dr John Falzon, chief executive officer of the St Vincent de Paul Society, said charity goups should not be expected to fill in the gaps left by the federal government.

“It is just not good enough to say charity will be there to fill in the gaps, because charity is not the answer,” he said.

“Charities like Vinnies will always be there for people, but this is a real lack of strategic thinking and vision from any government that says let charities sort it out.

“Government has a responsibility to do what markets cannot and that is provide equitable access to those essentials of life such as housing, education and employment.

“We are deeply concerned that an attempt will be made to bring the budget into the black on the backs of those who are the most vulnerable in Australian society.”

Dr Falzon said he feared people would be “systematically humiliated” by being pushed more deeply into poverty.

Australian Charity groups have warned they cannot be expected to fill in the gaps if the federal government walks away from its provision of welfare and social services for Australia’s most vulnerable people when it delivers its budget.

Non-government agencies, church-based groups, academics and unions held a crisis meeting in Sydney on Tuesday to raised the alarm about Abbott government policies they fear threaten the future of welfare and public services.

Professor Barbara Pocock, a workplace expert from the University of South Australia said the federal government needed to look beyond raising the GST to how it collects taxes more fairly.

“How do we look at the balance of service provision? What’s the role of the not for profit sector, the commodified market and government provision?” she said.

ACTU president Ged Kearney said a range of groups at the Sydney crisis meeting were concerned about the Abbott government’s rhetoric on welfare and social services.

“They want to shrink welfare, they want to shrink public services, they want to shrink the role of government,” she said.

“It’s worrying that the government is supportive of increasing the retirement age, but ignores the needs of young workers who are being shut out of the job market.

“Young people want to work, are ready to work, and yet the Abbott government is instead focusing on getting every last drop out of 69-year-olds.”

The national director of Uniting Justice Australia, the Reverend Eleni Poulos, said the government should not only focus on the budget bottom line, but play an active part in building a healthy society that cares for its most vulnerable.

“We are increasingly concerned about government policy’s focus on finances and on the economy as an end in itself,” she said.

Nadine Flood, the national secretary of the Community and Public Sector Union, said government estimates of budget savings suggested between 14,500 and 26,500 public sector jobs could be cut in the next three years. The CSIRO has already announced it will cut 300 jobs in the next financial year.

“Our concern is the commission of audit and federal budget may contain further sweeping cuts to public services and jobs,” she said.

“We are really worried about job losses. A lot of them are in regional communities around Australia where they are seeing unemployment rising.

“Public sector workers are also really worried about the community they serve and the impact of cuts on the services they provide.”

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