Sister Carmel's battle for the poor

Living and working with marginalised people for the past 21 years, Sister Carmel Hanson rsj knows a thing or two about unemployment, homelessness and poverty, reports Catholic Religious Australia.

In 1991 the Lochinvar Sister of St Joseph set up the ‘House of Hospitality’ to provide accommodation for people who find themselves without a roof over their heads.  For the past 21 years, she has lived at the ‘House’ which over that time has provided a home for nearly 1000 people.

The ‘House’ has supported a range of people including men with children, women with children, single women, asylum seekers and East Timorese students studying at the University of Newcastle.

“It is always very humbling sharing a home with people who in spite of terrible tragedies and difficulties are very generous,” says Carmel.

Her work as a psychologist and solicitor with the St Vincent de Paul Society in Newcastle has also given her insight into the life of the poor.

Many years ago when she first began working in this area, Carmel says she realised that it was all very well to sit down and have a cup of tea and a chat, but what people really needed was professional counselling. “They also had no idea of their legal rights,” she says.

So as well as being a psychologist, Carmel completed a law degree so that she could represent these people in court and provide them with information.

Her focus both as a psychologist and solicitor has been to meet people in their homes where they are comfortable. As an advocate for people living in poverty, she is currently lobbying the Federal Government to increase the Newstart unemployment allowance.

FULL STORY Lobbying for justice for the poor (CRA)

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