Catholic Welfare weighs in on IR debate

The director of Catholic Welfare Australia has told an interchurch welfare symposium that the Catholic Church has always deplored the treatment of employment as nothing more than a form of commercial contract, which he suggested is the basis of the Howard Government's industrial relations reforms.

CLICK HEREFrank Quinlan was in Melbourne for yesterday's "IR reform - social and economic dimensions" forum organised by the Anglican charity the Brotherhood of St Laurence.

He said that an emphasis on contract leads to a "sense of alienation between a worker and his or her labour".

Instead, he said forms of employment should stress the integration of work and worker, and encourage the application of creative skills.

"The most obvious impact for employees is that employment ought to provide adequate income," he said. "This income provides access to essentials such as health, housing, education. In addition to such essentials, income provides for a range of activities that might broadly be called 'social participation'. These activities include recreation and leisure, personal development, philanthropy of various kinds and a range of other activities. Participation in these activities comprises what might reasonably defined as 'participation in society'."

Meanwhile the head of the Brotherhood warned that Australia's poorest households are at risk of being caught in a "pincer movement" between the Federal Government's Industrial Relations changes and its Welfare to Work strategy.

"On the one hand the Government is taking the welfare out of work, loosening Australia's traditional system of the minimum wage and the welfare component in wage structure," Tony Nicholson, Executive Director of the Brotherhood of St Laurence. "On the other hand, through its welfare-to-work proposals, the Government is trying to get people off welfare and back into the workforce."

Address to the Brotherhood of St Laurence's Forum: IR Reform, social and economic dimensions 11 October 2005 by Mr Frank Quinlan Executive Director Catholic Welfare Australia
IR pincer movement to catch the poor? (Brotherhood of St Laurence 10/10/05)

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Catholic Welfare Australia

12 Oct 2005