The new State president of the St Vincent de Paul Society warns the charity is facing possibly the toughest period in its history because of the increase in people struggling to afford the basic costs of living.

Despite encountering the worst extremes of poverty during work for the society in African shanty towns, Joseph Clement Astruc was adamant that West Australians could not afford to be complacent about the rising tide of homelessness in an otherwise prosperous society.

“The divide between rich and poor in this State continues to grow and the society finds itself being called on more than ever to help people with the basic necessities of life — food, clothing and shelter,” he said. “The widely publicised boom, while prosperous for some, has had a significant negative effect on many in our community.”

The above sounds like an echo of what a young student, Frederic, wrote…

The problem which divides people today is not a political problem; it is a social one. It is a matter of knowing which will get the upper hand, the spirit of selfishness or the spirit of sacrifice; whether society will go for ever-increasing enjoyment and profit, or for everyone devoting themselves to the common good … Many people have too much and still want more. Others do not have enough, or do not have anything at all, and they want to take by force what is not being given to them. A war is threatening between these two groups. On one side, the power of wealth, on the other the force of desperation. We must get in between these two groups, at least to reduce the impact if we cannot stop it. Because we are young; because we are not wealthy, we can more easily fill the role of mediators.

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