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Catholic welfare agency says Govt welfare reforms miss Christmas spirit
      The Federal Government's proposal announced yesterday to force disabled people and sole parents to join the unemployed in undertaking community work is to be rejected as mean spirited, especially on the eve of Christmas, a church spokesperson said.
    "The Howard Government appears intent on presenting a hard-hearted, punitive, judgmental response to people in need", according to Fr Peter Norden of Jesuit Social Services.
    "Those on social security support need to be presented with opportunities, not to be judged as 'dole bludgers' and threatened with the withdrawal of the very means of their survival," he said. "They don't chose to be disabled, or sole parents or unemployed". 
    "People who are struggling to survive are paralysed, not liberated, by the threat of the withdrawal of their social security benefits and it will not help them move to a more creative and independent stance" Fr Norden explained. 
    As Christian church organisations are busily attempting to make Christmas a happy time for people with special needs, the harsh reforms announced by the Federal Government today appear to be working in the opposite direction" he suggested.
Jesuit Social services