September 30, 2012
Josephites take up bishops’ call to champion families.
Wide experience with families across the whole spectrum of Australian society has led the Sisters of St Joseph to reinforce the call of the Australian bishops to a new focus on families, particularly families made vulnerable by social and economic pressures.
‘Our long tradition of working with families in need has given us a real appreciation of the call of the bishops to us at this time,’ said Sr Anne Derwin, congregational leader of the Sisters of St Joseph, who attended the launch of the Social Justice Statement.
‘Josephite sisters and our partners in ministry work with families in a variety of circumstances, including fragmented families, asylum seekers and refugees, Indigenous families and families suffering from grief and trauma, all of whom are affected by changing Government policies which threaten long-held Australian values of fair play, support for the underdog and just wages.’
‘Across all areas,’ Sr Anne confirmed, ‘we believe that the bishops’ call is particularly relevant at this time. Our experience is demonstrating clearly that vulnerable families in particular are under threat. Long working hours, a low minimum wage and Government policies, such as compulsory income management, the shifting of 100,000 sole parents onto the significantly lower Newstart Allowance, and the offshore asylum seeker policy, will inevitably perpetuate inequity for those who are most at risk in our society. As Australians, we need to keep reminding ourselves that the economy exists for the community, not the other way round.’
As a response to the Social Justice Statement, Josephite congregations across Australia will examine the Statement in detail and continue to respond practically, both in their work on the ground with families, and in their advocacy with Government. These actions derive from our conviction that the causes of poverty and disadvantage are structural and historical, and from our commitment to working with families which we have done since our foundation in 1866.
Jan Barnett rsj Josephite Justice Coordinator 0403 634 534