CLICK IMAGE FOR VIDEO As you are probably aware, earlier this week the Federal Government released its annual budget. It’s an important moment in the year for Australians because the decisions made can have a significant impact on the lives of individuals, families and communities.
As I reflect on what was announced, it has been encouraging to see a commitment by the government to some important measures that support vulnerable Australians. In particular, it is pleasing to see the commitment to deliver promised funding for the NDIS, and the allocation of $375 million over the next 3 years to crisis housing for the homeless, with priority given to young people and victims of domestic violence.
The number of people in our communities struggling to pay for a place to live is a real concern. Some measures to address this issue of housing affordability were announced in the budget. It remains to be seen what effect these will have, but what is clear is that there is much more work to be done. We urgently call on the federal government to work with the NSW state government to address the lack of affordable places to live, by ensuring that a proportion of all new developments are designated for social and affordable housing.
One area of real concern in the budget is our relationship to those beyond our national borders. I believe our actions as a nation say something about who we are as Australians. And I believe that generosity and hospitality, which are two key components of the Christian story, should also be at the heart of our Australian story.
We are saddened to see that this government has again cut the Australian aid budget. This cut of $303 million comes at a time when our levels of generosity are already at an all-time low.
We currently find ourselves in the midst of a global crisis with regard to refugees and displaced people. It is good to see the government deliver on their commitment to an extra 2,500 refugee placements in the coming year, yet it still seems strikingly inadequate in the light of the magnitude of the crisis.
I take this opportunity to encourage churches, as we follow Jesus, to continue to play our part in working towards the flourishing of our communities. And I also encourage you to use your voices to speak out for and with those who are marginalised and vulnerable. I commend to you the resources produced by our own Public Engagement Group as well as Baptist World Aid, BaptistCare, and A Just Cause to help you in this task.
And finally, would you join me in praying for our government, for wisdom and discernment in the important work that lies ahead of them.
To learn how you and your church can do more in relation to the issues touched upon visit:
Baptist World Aid: https://baptistworldaid.org.au/2017/05/11/fear-love-and-budgets/
Baptist World Aid prayer resource: https://nswactbaptists.org.au/wp-content/uploads/sites/19/2017/05/Prayer-for-Generosity.pdf
A Just Cause: https://ajustcause.com.au/refugee/
Public Engagement Group, Baptist Association: https://nswactbaptists.org.au/public-engagement/
and to read more about Baptist Care’s response to the budget, go to: http://www.baptistcareaustralia.org.au/news/baptist-care-australia-2016-17-pre-budget-submission-to-the-federal-go