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Many of us know someone or are aware of someone who is experiencing housing stress or homelessness. A Place to Call Home, the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Social Justice Statement 2018-19[i] is a call for all of us to take action on this growing social crisis. Between 2011 and 2016, homelessness in Australia increased by 14 per cent, rough sleeping increased by 20 per cent and overcrowding increased by 23 per cent. The demand for homelessness services increased by 22 per cent[ii]. Homelessness is outpacing population growth and housing demand is outstripping supply. As with many social issues – the people most affected are those who face disadvantage or who are vulnerable.
Good Shepherd presented the second Good Conversation forum, Economic Frameworks and women’s human rights on 28 June 2017. One of the biggest policy challenges for Australia is the recognition of domestic labour and its contribution to social cohesion and wellbeing. Domestic work, chiefly done by women, is not considered as productive work or economic participation.
Peter Hudson, staff member of Catholic Social Services, shares a reflection on his recent trip to Lake Mungo (NSW) where he walked on country with Muthi Muthi woman, Vicki Clark.
Homelessness seems to have received more media coverage in recent months than is usually the case – it’s usually hidden from public view, as are most of the 17,000+ children in Australia under the age of 12 who don’t have a stable place to call home. It is up to all of us to respond to homelessness and help the most vulnerable in our society from becoming another statistic.
With this in mind, Executive Director of Catholic Social Services Victoria, Denis Fitzgerald, plans to participate in the 2017 Vinnies CEO sleep out, which seeks to make a difference, by raising funds for Vinnies programs, including the soup vans, and by raising awareness.

For Christians, Lent is a time of repentance, and of preparation for our special annual commemoration of the heart of the Christian message: that our God, in Christ, became human as we are, that he conquered sin and death, and asks us to love him as he loved us. Repentance requires a change in a person – it requires that they develop a new understanding of their actions and themselves. This change in us should make a difference to the people we encounter, and to the society that we are part of.

Volunteering is a precious free resource made available by generous people for the benefit of others, for the Church and our communities. It is giving one's time and personal resources in the service of others. In this it is close to the heart of the Scriptures, where service runs deeply through the history of God's relationship with his people. Are we making the most of this resource, or can we do better?

Competition and efficiently working markets have their role to play, but collaboration not competition, mission not markets should be the drivers of social service delivery in the 21st century, according to a recent article by Denis Fitzgerald from Catholic Social Services Victoria.  Related to this, faith-based bodies can only achieve their potential in service and advocacy and be true to their prophetic calling if they also develop and advance a new vision of a society that would be informed by the needs of all.

Click here for a reflection from Anne Astin on some broader trends and developments - in international development – food supply, affluence and trade – and on challenges and issues for Catholic social services.  These were part of a presentation to a planning day for Catholic Social Services Victoria on 9 December 2016.

Welcoming of refugees, loving care for those who are dying, standing up for rehabilitation of young people in detention, focusing on our common humanity and not differences in religion or nationality: not the sort of headlines that we see around the world these days. But that is what Christians are called to do. Catholic social services work to build a society where these values are the norm.
Click here for a reflection from Helen Cooney, who asks who are the vulnerable people in our changing environment. This is based on remarks from Helen, a member of Council at Catholic Social Services Victoria, to a December 2016 planning day.
Click here to listen to Fiona Basile reflecting on photography, faith and life:  we are fortunate that, among other things, Fiona assists with communications at Catholic Social Services Victoria
Catholic Social Services Victoria recently expressed concern that ‘affordable housing must be our focus, not vilifying rough sleepers’. Media reports (The Age, Tough love in new rough sleeping strategy for Melbourne's CBD, January 27, 2017) have stated that, via an emergency response package of $9.8-million, ‘rough sleepers’ in Melbourne's CBD will be offered "guaranteed" accommodation by the Victorian government. The Age reports that soup kitchens and other street services could be cut back in a tougher and more co-ordinated approach to tackling the homelessness crisis.
We need to focus on the availability of safe, affordable and secure housing, rather than vilify people who don’t have adequate access to housing. Many of these people need a safe, affordable home in a friendly community, and some need decent regular work. Others need specialist attention. We are not talking about rubbish that needs to be 'cleaned out'. 

But comment and media coverage of rough sleepers in Melbourne has tended to focus on the short term. Victorian homelessness, housing and social services organisations have responded.


Denis Fitzgerald reflects on a suggestion from John Allen that in Pope Francis we have ‘in flesh and bone, a Magna Carta for Catholic social services.’

Denis Fitzgerald outlines Pope Francis' Message for the 50th World Day of Peace, on 1 January 2017, which focuses on the centrality of non-violence, within the home as well as between nations.

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Catholic Social Services Victoria acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Elders in each of the Communities where we work. Click for our Reconciliation Vision
Cardinal Knox Centre. 383 Albert Street (PO Box 146), East Melbourne Vic 3002
Tel: (03) 9287 5566 Fax: (03) 9287 5567 Email: office@css.org.au
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