Jesuit Social Services strives to tackle the stubborn problems that affect human beings through new ways of thinking and operating. Our business is to find solutions. Our efforts extend to working with our colleagues in the Jesuit network within and increasingly beyond Australia who share our mission and commitment to a range of international human rights and social development frameworks.
Over the next five years the world in which we live will still be dealing with the effects of COVID: directly, with its high rate of infections and death of vulnerable people; indirectly, with the massive debt contracted by the nation during the pandemic exacerbating the gross inequality between the very wealthy and the disadvantaged whom we accompany. The positive element in this is the public expectation that Government will take an active part in providing health, educational and other essential services. Accompanied by a widespread desire for more accountable and person-centred governance, this change of attitude may encourage Governments to be responsive to advocacy in relation to policies and programs like ours that embody accompaniment and are strongly based on evidence.
The desire for a stronger government role, however, comes at a time when there is still strong opposition to raising taxes. This mismatch between the demands on government and its revenue will create the risk that people who are disadvantaged and programs that serve them will be neglected, and initiatives to encourage just communities will not be supported.
This could intensify the sense of isolation, anxiety, and mental illness within the community, and encourage political partisanship.
Our five-year Strategic Plan commences on the eve of a referendum about whether to change the Constitution to recognise the First Peoples of Australia by establishing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice. This is a significant time in our nation’s history and its legacy will strengthen, and possibly heighten, the ongoing need for reconciliation.
Almost certainly, extreme weather events like dangerously hot weather, fires and floods will increase public pressure to deal with climate change. But the resistance to paying the costs of doing so will also be strong. The effects of climate change will be experienced most by people who are already disadvantaged in other ways. Chief among them are Indigenous Australians.
More remotely we shall also be affected by international conflict, which will increase the number of displaced people. Ongoing advances in technology such as artificial intelligence bring both risks and opportunities in a world that is becoming increasingly complex.