Caritas welcomes budget aid increase

Catholic reactions to Tuesday's Budget continue with Caritas Australia welcoming an increase in overseas aid programs but local charity Vinnies says that the budget fails to address the needs of "rent-poor" Australians.

In a statement, Vinnies CEO, Dr John Falzon says that the "the 2007 Budget leaves rent-poor Australians in an annual $1.5bn hole".

Citing an unreleased NATSEM study, Dr Falzon said that over 405,000 Australian households are suffering financial stress arising from high rent, each year paying a combined $1.5bn more rent than they can afford without going hungry.

"Vinnies members see this everyday," Dr Falzon said. "We see families sacrificing on food, clothing and other essential to pay rent."

"With ten consecutive years of budget surplus, the government has wasted numerous opportunities to alleviate the financial crisis on families and low income earners. An average $16-a-week tax cuts for the most deserving low income households and other sweeteners with no indexation provide no meaningful solution to the rental crisis," he said.

Meanwhile, Catholic Social Services Australia Executive Director, Frank Quinlan, said with unemployment now at 4.4 per cent, the Federal Government has an opportunity "to direct greater attention to the needs of people who face serious barriers to employment".

In a statement, Mr Quinlan said yesterday's figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics are good news for those people who are now in jobs and good news for the economy. But he said many people who remain unemployed in such buoyant economic times need intensive services to help them participate more fully in society - not just employment.

"On Budget Night the Government announced the welcome addition of 2,000 Personal Support Program places to be released over four years," Mr Quinlan said.

"However, last year there were an estimated 15,000 people waiting for a place on the Personal Support Program. Recent changes to the Welfare to Work program will have increased this waiting list. Some people have been waiting for over 12 months. Around 75 per cent have a mental illness and many are homeless," he said.

On another note, however, Caritas Australia has welcomed the budget increase in support and funding to the Australian NGOs.

"It is a great recognition and a concrete acknowledgement of support for the quality of work that NGOs do in alleviating poverty," Caritas CEO Jack de Groot said.

"Organisations like Caritas Australia are working at the coal-face of development and the budget increase of $10 million across the non-profit aid sector will greatly assist us in this important work".

The 2006/07 Federal Budget provides that the AusAID NGO Cooperation Program will be increased by $11.3 million from last year. Total funding to NGOs will increase by 15 per cent to an estimated $176 million in 2007/08.

"While we support the increase in the aid budget to $3.15 billion this year and forward commitment to over $4 billion by 2010, we really need to do more to meet the Millennium Development Goals," Mr de Groot added.

"We need to increase the quantity of our aid but we also need to keep sight of the quality of the development that we are pursuing."

"The 2007 Budget leaves rent-poor Australians in an annual $1.5bn hole" (Vinnies Media Release, 10/5/07)
Record Unemployment Shifts Focus To People Missing Out (Catholic Social Services, 10/5/07)
Caritas Australia welcomes recognition for NGOs in aid budget

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Budget website
Vinnies (
Caritas Australia
Catholic Social Services

Budget focus on disadvantaged education welcomed (CathNews, 10/5/07)
Budget fiddles while public hospitals burn, Catholic Health warns (CathNews, 9/5/07
Budget should be statement of values: Vinnies chief (CathNews, 8/5/07)

11 May 2007

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