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Jesuit Poverty Study confirms budget surplus welfare priority

The latest research by Jesuit Social Services has revealed that a quarter of the Victorian Prison population comes from just 2.1% of the state's 647 postcode areas.

Jesuit Social Services (JSS) is arguing that the Victorian Government is effectively using prisons as social welfare institutions, and funds from the $7.5 billion Federal Budget surplus should be directed to proper intervention measures rather than tax cuts, in line with the call by Nationals Leader, Deputy PM John Anderson.

JSS research has revealed that areas with a high prison population are also the ones with some of the highest rates of child abuse and neglect, psychiatric hospital admissions and long-term unemployment.

JSS Policy Director Fr Peter Norden said: "Despite the fact that there has been a decrease in serious crime in Victoria, according to the Victoria Police statistics, there has already been a 40% increase in the prison population in the last decade, and the Victorian Government has also committed new funds to increase cell numbers."

The findings are part of a progress report of a major study on locational disadvantage being conducted by the policy and research arm of Jesuit Social Services which is being released in Melbourne this morning as part of National Anti-Poverty Week.

"These findings are a challenge to the Federal and State government to direct intervention to those areas where problems occur in large numbers", Fr Norden said.

"The call by the Leader of the Nationals, and Deputy Prime Minister, John Anderson, to direct some of the $7.5 billion surplus to areas of need in Australia, rather than tax cuts, is certainly supported by the findings of this research," he said.

Jesuit Social Services

National Anti-Poverty Week Forum, NSW Parliament House, Monday 13/10/03 | Presentation by Jesuit Social Services Policy Director Fr Peter Norden (Powerpoint Download)
National Anti-Poverty Week

15 Oct 2003