The Federal Election result in May this year showed that people living in Australia want to see action on key issues including climate change, gender justice, and reducing poverty and inequality.
This election came at a critical point in our history. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought many pre-existing social and economic issues in Australia to the fore, from housing stress, to poverty, family violence, and insecure employment. As an organisation working with some of the most disadvantaged members of the community, we have witnessed firsthand the disproportionate impact of this crisis on already marginalised people and communities.
However, responses to the pandemic have also proven that while these issues are complex, they are not beyond resolution. For example, the increase to JobSeeker meant that some of our participants, for the first time, were able to afford necessities such as medication and warm clothes. We have witnessed the collaboration of private and public sectors to implement evidence-informed measures that increased the level of mental health support, boosted income, and provided housing for people experiencing vulnerabilities. While these measures show that a more just and humane society is possible, many have been temporary and only provided short-term relief.
Much like COVID-19, climate change is disproportionately impacting marginalised people and communities, including the people we work with. Our participants are more at risk of bearing the brunt of the current and long-term impacts of climate change because of where they live, their income, age, health conditions, disabilities, or where they work. As we continue to respond to the pandemic, it is therefore critical that we do not lose sight of the co-occurring climate crisis by ensuring our approach is grounded in principles of ecological justice and equity.
Jesuit Social Services’ Federal Election platform, A Blueprint for a Just Recovery, draws on the organisation’s 45-year history of advocacy and action to provide recommendations across a range of interconnected social policy areas including youth justice, mental health, affordable housing, ecological justice, gender justice, and immigration and settlement. Since the Election, Jesuit Social Services has shared this platform with almost 30 Members of Parliament.
Some of our key recommendations include:
- Raising the age of criminal responsibility to 14 across all states and territories
- Establishing a 10-year national strategy on housing and homelessness
- Increasing funding and resources for organisations and communities seeking to trial, test and implement climate change adaptation, mitigation and transformation activities
- Progressing the aspirations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people articulated in the Uluru Statement from the Heart, particularly through constitutional recognition of the National Indigenous Voice to Parliament
- Funding research and evidence-based programs to address the complex root causes of family violence
- Ending the punitive approach toward people seeking asylum by ending offshore processing and ensuring against prolonged and arbitrary immigration detention
Jesuit Social Services continues to advocate for resources, policies, practices and ideas that reduce inequality, prejudice and exclusion and that, ultimately, reflect a more compassionate and just Australia.