Combined campaign signals time for all to work together on poverty
The Vote  No More Poverty Campaign, launched last month by an alliance of Catholic and other faith-based organisations, has welcomed last week's commitment of Opposition leader Mark Latham and all Premiers and Chief Ministers to the task of tackling poverty through Commonwealth-State cooperation.
No More Poverty includes the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council, Catholic Health Australia, Catholic Welfare Australia, Catholic Leaders of Religious Institiutes, Jesuit Social Services, St Vincent de Paul Society, the Uniting Church's UnitingCare, and the Anglicans' Anglicare.
"Our member organisations have long believed that buck-passing and blame-shifting between Commonwealth and State governments must cease in the interests of a national strategy on poverty and inequality. So far this politicking has allowed deprivation and its consequences for the poor to be used as a political football.
"We welcome this concrete commitment by one of the major parties. We look forward to seeing more detail in due course on how they intend to develop a national strategy to alleviate poverty.
The heads of the major faiths wrote to the Prime Minister, Premiers and Chief Ministers regarding poverty last September, noting that the prime responsibility [for solving the problems] rests with government - Federal, State and Local.
Expressing pleasure at seeing poverty placed at the top of a COAG agenda in Mr Latham's statement, the organisations called on all political parties "to embrace this commitment to a national strategy, putting aside all partisan differences in the interests of Australia's 3.6 million poor, especially the children in low-income households."
"The just released UN Human Development Report has Australia with the 2nd highest percentage of people living below 50% of Median income and the 4th highest in the Human Poverty Index for highly developed countries.
"In the interests of a just and compassionate Australia, we cannot afford to deny that we have a problem or deny that we can achieve a solution. Whether we do so or not is a matter of choice, not affordability. A bipartisan approach to tackling poverty and inequality in this country is a clear winner for all Australians."
Time for All to Work Together on Poverty (ACSJC/Catholic Health Australia/Catholic Welfare Australia/Catholic Leaders of Religious Institiutes/Jesuit Social Services/St Vincent de Paul Society/UnitingCare/Anglicare 16/7/04)
No More Poverty
Council of Australian Governments (COAG)
UN Human Development Report 2003
19 Jul 2004