Thursday, July 29, 2010

Guest Post: Getting Social Policy Back on the Election Agenda

By Alison Moffitt. Also available here.

The Policy Unit released a report yesterday that is getting tons of coverage, which is very exciting for us. Nothing like a political media release in the middle of an election campaign. Unfortunately the kinds of issues it raises are not issues that the pollies are engaging with this time around. None of them have talked extensively about social policy or looking after marginalised, until Julia Gillard's announcement today about a new disability insurance scheme.

The report we released focused on three groups in society who are particularly vulnerable:
  • people who access Emergency Relief (food, clothing, bills assistance etc);
  • African refugees, many of whom struggle to settle because of housing problems; and
  • ageing parent carers, that is, older people who are looking after adult children with disabilities. Many of these parents are ageing and developing their own health issues, which makes their caring responsibilities even harder.
So many outlets have run with the story. It's been rad. The best two I have seen so far are:
  1. This article from the Sydney Morning Herald (If you don't read anything else, make sure you read this one.)
  2. The news story put together by ABC TV, which aired at midday today and hopefully will be on air on tonight's news too. (My colleagues and I are in it!)
Other places to pick up the story include Channel 7, 2UE radio, ABC radio and Sydney Anglican Media.

If you can, please check out the report. These are very important issues to think about, especially if you live in Australia. You can find it here. There is a link to download the report at the bottom of the page.


Blake Hatton said...

Thanks Alison. It's great to be helped to think about this. What can we do though?

Alison said...

Do you mean in your capacity as "Blake the individual" or "Blake the Director of Outreach"?

There are heaps of things you can do in both capacities, like:

- Pray for change in your own heart, in these people's lives, in the church, in society...

- Be aware of the needs of these people.

- Watch out for these people in the community, meet them and talk to them. The thing about social exclusion is it's not just about financial deprivation, it's also about relationships and connections in the community. Just having converstaions with people and listening is helpful in itself.

- Talk about it to other people so they know and care too.

- Write personally to your local members about the problems that concern you - they don't have to be fancy letters, just honest letters.

- Be aware of the kinds of services that exist. You don't have to be a qualified social worker to tell someone where they can find a support group, a respite centre or a soup kitchen.