Catholics join campaign to clean up poverty

Cleaners in Australia and New Zealand are rallying for International Anti-Poverty Day today in a bid for better wages supported by the Australian Catholic Social Justice Commission while Catholic agencies are marking the day in a series of talks on poverty.

Anti-Poverty Week which runs from 15-28 October was established in Australia as an expansion of the United Nations' annual International Anti-Poverty Day on 17 October.

As part of today's activities, which also includes a series of rallies around the country, clergy from different faith groups were invited by organisers to speak from their pulpit, minbar and bimah in support of low-paid immigrant cleaners.

New Zealand cleaners will also rally today. "Cleaners are joining the worldwide campaign against poverty, but we need to take his stand against poverty in New Zealand first" Cleaners union delegate, Sue Lafaele, told reporters.

"There is poverty in New Zealand. We see it in our communities. Our families experience it. "

"It's time for the cleaning industry and the government to lift cleaners out of poverty in New Zealand. That's why we are campaigning for a clean start in the cleaning industry," said Sue.

Cleaners usually have to work at night, when most of us are asleep. Most are paid around $10.95 per hour, just 70 cents above the minimum wage. Cleaners often work in 2-3 hour shifts, many having to do several jobs per day just to make ends meet. Work rates are unrealistic and cleaners often don't have time to complete their work - many work extra unpaid hours just to get the job done.

In another Anti-Poverty event, a report on poverty by the University of Queensland Social Research Centre and the Queensland Council of Social Services, was yesterday released by Queensland Governor Quentin Bryce at an event at St Mary's Catholic Church, South Brisbane.

The report reveals that Queensland citizens are among the most poverty-stricken and disadvantaged in Australia. It shows that 10 per cent of Queenslanders live in poverty - 400,000 citizens in total, including 100,000 children and their families.

The study also finds that students from poor and disadvantaged social groups perform worst at school and their lack of academic achievement means they have difficulty gaining employment, trapping them in the poverty cycle.

Meanwhile, Catholic Social Services Australia's Anti-Poverty Week Lecture at Federal Parliament House this morning will feature Fr Peter Norden, Associate Director of Jesuit Social Services, who will reflect on the Jesuit organisation's latest research into locational or "postcode" disadvantage.

North of the country, Graeme Mundine of the National Council of Churches Australia will be speaking on the topic of "Make Indigenous Poverty History" at the 5th Annual Common Wealth for the Common Good Address, organised by Brisbane's Catholic Justice and Peace Commission and the Conference of Leaders of Religious Institutes Queensland's Social Action Office.

So-called smart state's people among most poverty-stricken (The Australian, 16/10/06)
Anti-Poverty Week (ACSJC Briefing, October 2006)
Cleaners stand up against poverty (Scoop, 13/10/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Anti-Poverty Week
Cleaners plan rallies during Anti-Poverty Week - Oct 15-21 2006 (LHMU)
Social Action Office CLRIQ - Make Indigenous Poverty History
Catholic Social Services Australia
Australian Catholic Social Justice Council

Priest laments election campaign poverty bypass (CathNews, 19/10/04)

17 Oct 2006