Australian Catholic Bishops’ Social Justice Statement Promotes an Inclusive and Sustainable Australia

The Australian Catholic Bishops’ Social Justice Statement for 2017–18, Everyone’s Business: Developing an Inclusive and Sustainable Economy, has been released. Each year the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference issues a major statement for the coming year, on Social Justice Sunday (the last Sunday in September).

This year’s statement calls for “an economy that is founded on justice and offers dignity and inclusion to every person.”

Dr Don Perlgut, CCA CEO, comments: “A number of the statements are highly relevant to the activities of Australian community education providers. It is important to note that the Catholic Bishops Conference emphasises the importance of education and skills development for vulnerable and disadvantaged people, and how we must all share responsibility for creation of jobs. See CCA’s recent statement about the unacceptability of continuing high unemployment rates in Australia.”

Dr Perlgut continues: “The statement references ‘equitable quality education and promoting lifelong learning for all’, both essential components of what CCA and its members stand for. It also clearly states how important it is for Australia to address the ‘national shame’ of Indigenous disadvantage, with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities that ‘struggle with social and economic burdens that most Australians cannot imagine’.”

Read the full statement here (PDF document). Selected quotes from the statement appear below:

On Investment in Education and Skills Development

“Education and skills development will assist vulnerable and unemployed workers to manage transitions in the labour market. If the market does not generate enough jobs with just pay and conditions, there remains a shared responsibility on society to shoulder the burden of job creation equitably.”

On Social Investment

“Social investment should assist equality of opportunity over each person’s life. This includes transitions between education, work and welfare. Lifelong education and skills development would assist workers to manage transitions in the economy. Social investment would support a healthy work and family life balance through generous parental leave, child care and other entitlements.”

On Addressing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Disadvantage

“Many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities struggle with social and economic burdens that most Australians cannot imagine. That they are overrepresented on almost every indicator of disadvantage is a national shame – the starkest measure of the economy’s failure to serve all Australians.

“One of the worst aspects of Indigenous disadvantage is the disastrous imprisonment rate. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders comprise three per cent of the population, but are over a quarter of the Australian prison population and 13 times more likely to be in prison than nonIndigenous Australians.

“Nine years into the Closing the Gap program, intended to address key areas of disadvantage of Indigenous people, we are on track to meet only one of the program’s seven targets. The latest figures show that Indigenous males have a life expectancy 10.6 years less than other Australians, and Indigenous females 9.5 years less. First Australians also lag behind the rest of the population in health, education, employment and household income, all of which influence health and life expectancy.”

On the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

“The United Nations’ Agenda 2030, with 17 Sustainable Development Goals … aims to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. Some key goals include:

  • Ensuring equitable quality education and promoting lifelong learning for all (Goal 4)
  • Ending poverty and reducing inequality (Goals 1 and 10)
  • Establishing sustainable patterns of production and consumption, with full, productive and decent work for all (Goals 8 and 12)
  • Establishing resilient infrastructure, inclusive and sustainable industrialisation and innovation; and making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable (Goals 9 and 11).

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