THE POWER OF NUN: Budgeting for social justice should be a top priority

FORGOTTEN: We have thousands of homeless people living in appalling conditions and our Government is pending billions incarcerating refugees. Photo: CONTRIBUTED
FORGOTTEN: We have thousands of homeless people living in appalling conditions and our Government is pending billions incarcerating refugees. Photo: CONTRIBUTED

With the recent announcement of the Federal Budget for the next financial year there are certainly lots of comments and issues blowing in the wind.  

Most of us would make no claim to be financial experts or conversant with the finer details underlying the decisions being made.

But on the other hand, we are Australian citizens for whom the well being of all Australians at all levels of the financial spectrum is important.

This allows us to raise pertinent questions for which there do not appear to be any answers forthcoming.      

We have thousands of homeless people living in appalling conditions and our Government is still spending billions of dollars incarcerating refugees – including those already acknowledged as eligible for resettlement in Australia – instead of spending that money wisely and well to help them and all Australians to have a proper roof over their heads.

The news that Mission Australia is close to opening the new accommodation for homeless people here in Orange is cause to rejoice.

But the underlying questions would have to be: what has caused these people to become homeless?                                                                                                                                  

Are rentals too high? Are Government subsidies adequate to provide a reasonable living? Are disability assessors able to look at the big picture?      

There is also the issue of drug testing for people applying for benefits and the possibility of their pension money only being available through the use of a card system.

While I am adamantly opposed to the misuse of drugs, it appears to me to be a punitive system being introduced without the proper supports and services to make it work.

I fear it could lead to a steep rise in theft, robberies and break-ins which we could well do without.                                                                                

The word budget is interesting. It implies a careful, well thought out process whereby each of us can make the best use of the funds available, letting commonsense prevail and the most urgent of needs be attended.                                                 

Our Sisters of Mercy Foundress Catherine McAuley described commonsense as “that rarest of virtues”.

I believe she was right.

She is also quoted as saying “the poor need help now – not next week” and I believe she was right there too.

Our Government needs to ensure that the wealthy don’t find ways and means to escape their legal financial responsibilities by fiddling the books or stowing the profits away in overseas havens.                                                                                             

It also needs to ensure that people being discharged from so- called correctional centres are adequately rehabilitated to the level where they are able to resume a meaningful and lawful lifestyle.                                                      

Appropriate Palliative Care services with designated accommodation, trained and capable Doctors and Nurses, and of course the funding to provide this should be readily available.

Sadly the proposal presented in State parliament by Member for Orange Phil Donato to ensure that nursing homes have a registered nurse on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week did not win approval.

Again, it looks like money talking.

Of course, some items on the big picture have been addressed in the new Budget, but we can only hope and pray that the poor and the needy won’t remain in No Man’s Land too long.