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September 10 is World Suicide Prevention Day, a day that aims to raise awareness around the globe that suicide can be prevented. In these difficult days of extended COVID-19 restrictions and the subsequent loss of jobs and housing security, the devastating impact of isolation and loneliness, more than ever the spotlight has been shone on mental health, reinforcing the importance of keeping this issue at the forefront of our concerns, and our advocacy work.

Catholic Social Services Victoria has released two reports, which outline the social service and infrastructure needs of rural and regional communities living in the Great South Coast and surrounds, and in Gippsland. Building on long standing engagement and recent consultation work conducted in the Warrnambool and Gippsland areas in 2019, the reports reflect the experience of people working in their local communities with individuals and groups who face isolation and disadvantage; circumstances that have been further exacerbated by the devastating impact of COVID-19, and the bushfires in Gippsland.

We're excited to release our 2019 Catholic Social Services Victoria Annual Report, which demonstrates the depth and breadth of the work and mission we undertake, together with our member organisations, the Bishops of Victoria, Catholic parish communities and agencies, our sector partners and government. Writing about the Annual Report in the recent June eNews, Executive Director Joshua Lourensz, writes: "When compiling all the work that went on throughout 2019, I was deeply impressed that so many people from across the member network and beyond came together to make all these events, advocacy and work happen — it is something to be celebrated.

The national Catholic social services conference, Serving Communities with Courage and Compassion, covered a range of topics that impact those working in the sector, and those we serve. There has been a range of articles that highlight different topics and speakers who presented at the conference.  
The bushfires we have seen over the past few weeks and months have been devastating. Catholic social service agencies are responding to both the short and longer term planning needs of communities across the country with many others. As a sector we also need to consider how we address the conditions that have given rise to such ferocious fires.
Catholic Social Services Victoria supports a joint statement made by McAuley Services for Women, Uniting Care Vic.Tas. and Anglicare Vic., in expressing concern at the proposed Religious Discrimination Bill. The statement says: A second draft of the Religious Discrimination Bill was released earlier this week, introducing changes that include a broader definition of which organisations can discriminate based on religion.
Catholic Social Services Victoria's December update is out now. It's full of our latest news and upcoming events, as well as news and events from our member organisations including CatholicCare, MacKillop Family Services, Jesuit Social Services, St Mary's House of Welcome, Edmund Rice Camps (Vic) and ACRATH, just to name a few!
As the year draws to a close, we send Christmas blessings of peace and joy to our many friends and supporters in the Catholic social services community. We have worked together in faith and hope for another year in our belief and commitment for a more just and compassionate society for all. Warmest greetings to those we seek to serve in humility and love. 

The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety’s Interim Report: Neglect demonstrates serious flaws in the provision of aged care in Australia. Catholic Social Services Victoria is concerned that the Commission’s final report needs to sufficiently take into account the particular needs of some of the most disadvantaged and vulnerable elderly people receiving aged care services. Our submission focuses on the needs of elderly people who have experienced homelessness, long-term disadvantage and marginalisation and as a consequence, have specific care needs as they grow older. 

The November update from Catholic Social Services Victoria is now available online. It is full of latest news and upcoming events from us and our member organisations, including VMCH, John Pierce Centre, Office for Justice and Peace and Edmund Rice Camps Victoria. Some of the highlights include an article that calls for intentional and strategic engagement with young professionals and emerging leaders working in Catholic Social services, along with a powerful piece written by Josh Lourensz of Catholic Alliance for People Seeking Asylum about his conversations with refugees in PNG. Get all of the details in the November update!
Congratulations to all the organisations, programs and individuals that were recognised for their outstanding contributions to ending homelessness in the 2019 Victorian Homelessness Achievement Awards, presented at the Council to Homeless Persons Victorian Shaping the Future Conference from 14-15 October. Particular congratulations to our member organisations and representatives who received awards - McAuley Community Services for Women, Sacred Heart Mission and VincentCare.

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