Nuns converge on Canberra to support homeless

Today, at the beginning of National Homelesssness Week, a delegation of Sisters of St Joseph will deliver thousands of signatures that urge the House of Representatives to make the right to a home a priority, by increasing funding for public housing and accompanying support services.

Throughout 2005, Josephite Sisters, their friends and associates are considering the plight of the homeless in Australia.

Today - also the Feast of Josephite Founder Blessed Mary MacKillop - a delegation of Josephites will take to Canberra thousands of signatures petitioning the House of Representatives to give urgent attention to recommendations on this issue. At 11am the signiatures will be presented to Hon. Christopher Pyne the Member for Sturt SA.

TNational Homelessness Week is set aside to raise public awareness of issues relating to homelessness.

Spokesperson Sr Joan Healy said: "No doubt Mary MacKillop who died on August 8th 1909 would, if she were alive today, be heading the delegation to Canberra to ask for justice and equity for the most disadvantaged of Australians."

Sr Joan added that it is "of the essence of the Sisters' life and work to live among people, to spend time with them and form worthwhile mutual relationships".

"It is this experience that has motivated us to speak directly to the Federal Parliament of Australia about the deep concerns we have regarding the level of housing stress and homelessness we witness among the people with whom we live and work."

The sisters are petitioning the Federal Parliament to make the right to a home for all a priority, by increasing funding for public housing and accompanying support services. Among the thousands of signatures on this petition are signatures of those who know from personal experience the difficulty involved in acquiring safe, affordable and appropriate housing.

Sr Joan said: "We have found that those who are homeless and most at risk of homelessness are indigenous people, those at the lowest end of the income bracket, and those suffering mental illness."

She pointed out that Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights - to which Australia is party - asserts that shelter is a basic human need without which many other needs and rights cannot be attended to.

Meanwhile, a statement from the St Vincent de Paul Society NSW/ACT advises that Robert Connolly, the Director of critically acclaimed Australian film Three Dollars will officially launch Sydney's Homeless Person's Week at 12:30 pm today at Rushcutters Bay Park in Sydney.

In Sydney, the Week will see homeless people participating in theatre and music performances, attending a harbour cruise and the Sydney Aquarium and a enjoying a day of sports. Vinnies is one of the agencies organising Homeless Person's Week, alongside Wesley Mission, the Salvation Army, The Station Inc., Baptist Inner City Ministries, Paddington Uniting Church, and St John's Darlinghurst.

Mary MacKillop and Homelessness (Sr Joan Healy/Sisters of St Joseph 5/8/05)
"Three Dollars" Director Robert Connolly to launch Sydney's Homeless Person's Week (St Vincent de Paul Society 4/8/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Sisters of St Joseph
St Vincent de Paul Society
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
The quiet achievers (Kairos Catholic Journal 7/8/05)
Three Dollars

Vinnies' incredulous reaction to NSW Public Housing plan (CathNEws 3/5/05)
Josephite Justice aims to secure safe homes for all (CathNews 19/4/05)

8 Aug 2005