“You don’t create a smart and confident Australia by taking to people with the stick” St Vincent de Paul Society National Council CEO, Dr John Falzon, responded to the 2011 Federal Budget with the following statement: “A harsher welfare compliance regime and the extension of compulsory income management are measures that assume that if you are disadvantaged your problem is idleness.

“Idleness is not the problem. The problem is entrenched inequality.

“The Government has stated its good intention to train Australians. We support this investment unreservedly. But you don’t create a smart and confident Australia by taking to people with the stick. This might have been the educational philosophy of years gone by and it might be a clever way of scoring political points, but it will not build a stronger, smarter economy or a fairer society.

“For a single unemployed person, the battle to survive on $34 a day is a battle that is waged from below the poverty line. The government is right to look at this and say that life should be better, but wrong to claim that the answer lies in making life harder.

“We encourage the Government to seriously analyse the actual causes of unemployment, especially in areas of concentrated disadvantage. We applaud place-based initiatives that support people who have been left out or pushed out. We also welcome the boost to mental health spending.

“But we cannot condone the Dickensian rhetoric of needing to take a stick to the backs of the poor.”

Dr John Falzon 0421332247


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